In New York…

freedom looks like too many choices… – U2, “New York”

Sometime after my plans for Philadelphia had been set, I decided that I wanted to go see Spider-man Turn Off The Dark since I would be so close–probably closer than I’ve ever been or will be for awhile–to New York City. At the time, the show was being rewritten and overhauled and I had hope that it would reopen, make it through the previews, and continue on successfully. Fortunately for me, that seemed to be the case. I asked around online and Erin—who was then just an online acquaintance—thankfully agreed to go with me. Erin had been to New York City before so she knew the ropes… better than me, anyway! And I felt less fearful about trying to navigate in what is to me a big scary city.

So I bought the tickets for the next day after the Philly concert, Erin booked the hotel in Times Square, and we decided we’d take Amtrak from Philly to Penn Station in NYC. It would be an epically fun little U2 “weekend” for us. Busy, yes. But fun.

As is usual for a stint in GA, we’d been up the day of the concert at 4am and, due to the horrible traffic pattern exiting the stadium, we did not get back to our hotel—just three miles away—until 2am the following day. We got a few hours sleep to wake up around 9 the next morning. I did not feel like I’d slept at all when I initially got up but after a shower and breakfast, my excitement masked my fatigue and I felt energized to face the new adventure.

Our arrival in NYC was a dizzying combination of subways and travel by train. I was glad Erin was more patient than me. I’m sure I could have figured it all out—I’ve had to do so in Europe—but it somehow all seems so much more intimidating in the US. Maybe when I travel abroad I live in a state of ignorant naivete because the cultural differences make it impossible for me to attempt to interpret the behaviors of the inhabitants; therefore, I can’t perceive the danger I think I feel around me by all my fellow US citizens. Either way, I cannot underscore how uncomfortable big cities like NYC make a small city girl like me feel as compared to say, Munich, where I’m just overwhelmed by the extreme foreignness of it all. I tried to look at NYC like that—pretend I was in some foreign country somewhere. That seemed to help.

Arrival in Times Square... A crazy busy place of intense madness.

When we emerged from the subway onto the streets of Time Square, my head exploded from the number of people who flooded the streets like one massive stream of bodies. I had pictured a lot of people, sure, but this was like the alley between tents at a carnival. I recognized some of the brightly lit buildings with their futuristic digital billboards from movies I’d seen, although in those movies the streets had been much emptier. It all seemed a lot more cluttered and narrow than I’d imagined. I thought Times Square would be an actual square, kind of like Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. Which I suppose, now that I think about it, is not really a square either. Still, Cleveland’s theatre district—even on a show day—is not nearly as packed as Times Square. Small City Girl exclaimed, “Eep!”

A constant stream of people are ever-present in Times Square.

We stayed at the Millennium Hotel which was a little out of the way from the main pedestrian traffic and was actually only a few blocks from the Foxwoods Theatre where we would see Spider-man. Once we checked in, we walked to the theatre to ensure we knew how to get there. After running a few short errands (such as buying a toothbrush, as I’d forgotten to pack one, and the cheap one I was provided at the hotel in Philly was destroyed after a single use), Erin and I decided to stalk Bono take a stroll through the famous Central Park. At the part of the park that just happens to be in front of Bono’s NYC apartment, The San Remo.

We didn’t honestly expect to see him there. My story—and I’m sticking to it—was that it was research for my rock star story. My continuing quest to see how the “other half” lives. The subway exit onto the street was just half a block from the famous residence. We stood on the corner across the street, took a few pictures, and then passed both entrances to the building from the same side of the street so not to appear obstructive or alert the bellmen. It was actually an old building. Nothing outwardly spectacular or grand. Just another apartment building in New York City. I can’t even imagine what it must have looked like on the inside. Nor did either of us know which tower Bono’s apartment occupies.

A lake in Central Park--where nature meets Man.

We hung out in the park for an hour or so, just generally taking in the surroundings. It was just like I’d seen in movies—an oasis of green in the middle of a cement jungle where at some points tall buildings poked over the tops of the trees. It was fairly busy with bicyclists, joggers, picnickers, and other tourists milling about. We imagined what it would be like to see Bono jogging by (we know he jogs) or on a stroll with his wife and sons as the paparazzi frequently catch him. No such luck for us that day. I wasn’t even sure he was in town.

After we’d had our fill of failed attempts to stalk, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for show. It turns out that Lori-Jo (aka EdgeFest)–another fan I’d met in my travels this summer—was in town and also attending that evening’s show. So we ended up meeting up with her for dinner. She rescued us from the chain restaurant of the Hard Rock Cafe to one of the many Irish pubs which, incidentally, happened to be across the street from our hotel. She happily fed the jukebox so that we could enjoy a bountiful of U2 music as we ate.

We parted ways with Lori-Jo because she had to pick up her tickets at Will Call. However, as we waited for the show to start from our great seats in the Flying Circle—which was the lower balcony—Lori-Jo walked right past us and sat in the row right in front of us! For the win! We formed our own little “crazed U2 fan” corner. While we did not make nearly as much ruckus as the slew of kids and their obnoxious parents further down our row, I can’t say we were exactly a passive audience. There was some fist pumping during a scene in which the main characters were at a club where the song “Vertigo” was playing and we could not help but poke each other a giggle at the various U2 references sprinkled throughout the script. It was not unlike a (subdued) U2 concert for us.

The show itself was really delightful. The music was well-balanced in the theatre, at an acceptable volume, and not at all distorted. You could make out the individual instruments and the cast pulled the songs off as good as their polished versions on the soundtrack I bought when it came out a month ago. The storyline pretty similarly followed that of the first Spider-man movie starring Tobey Macguire with an attempt to make add a more literary take on the plot with the legend of Arachne. Jennifer Damiano’s performance of Mary Jane Watson was reminiscent of Kirsten Dunst’s performance in the movie.

The costumes were awesome. Patrick Page really stole the show as the villainous Green Goblin, almost as if evil scientist was his first nature. The acrobatics had me on the edge of my chair because, given all the accidents the show had experienced early on, I did not want to personally witness any such accidents. I kept thinking there was no freaking way I would personally ever do what those actors were doing. And I’ve jumped out of a perfectly good airplane (however, I hate rock climbing, so I guess my statement comes as no surprise).

Most of the acrobatic stunts were performed by other actors dressed as Spider-man. However, at the end of the play, Reeve Carney did perform a few of his own, including a breath-taking jump onto a platform at the edge of our balcony. I can still see the silhouette Carney—his spiked hair aglow by the light of the spotlight at his back—and the shit-eating grin spread across his face as he looked out at us. It was almost as surprising and rewarding as if Bono himself had suddenly appeared on the balcony! Carney went on to jump up to the (higher) balcony above us where I’m sure the audience received a similar performance from the young actor.

Spider-man billboard outside of the Foxwoods Theatre.

The house was packed. Whether it was to watch what some still considered a sinking ship or people were honestly starting to take this show seriously, I felt vindicated that Bono and The Edge’s attempt to insert themselves into Broadway was finally working out for them. Sure, the story itself is not extremely deep. It doesn’t have the emotional or literary impact of Cabaret (my favorite musical) but neither does the tongue-in-cheek dialog of The Fifth Element compare to the emotionally uplifting message of Gattaca; yet, I love both movies with a passion. Sometimes you read a fiction novel because it’s fun and entertaining. Not everything has to teach you something.

But it’s not to say that Spider-man Turn Off The Dark is devoid of any meaningful content. It’s a love story primarily which is perhaps one of the most common themes Bono explores in all his work (think: The Million Dollar Hotel). Interlaced within the songs and some of the dialog is a dire political commentary ripped right out of today’s headlines—genetics (playing God), war, patriotism. I, of course, eat this stuff up.

The song “Pull The Trigger” has such a biting punch, I’ve been calling it “Bullet The Blue Sky 2.0.” As an evil corporation seeking to create super soldiers for the military try to persuade Norman Osborn to sell the secrets of his genetic breakthroughs, they chant the haunting chorus that reminds me so much of the war cries of those people who cried chants of anti-patriotism whenever I criticized the country post-911:

Don’t just think of you,
Think of God and country,
Join the proud and few who know best for their country
Get some patriotic pride
Or get on to the other side.

And the ever poignant obvious stab at the most recent events in Iraq:

How do we win, by living in fear
How do we win, get the enemy clear
How do we win, by saying it’s done in retaliation

The march of the soldiers screaming “yes, sir! hut-2-3” at the end of the sequence was spine-chilling, seeming somehow very ZooTV to me. I wish U2 could perform this one in concert (even though it’s technically not a U2 song). The words are marvelously poignant and, honestly, I’d love to see The Edge play the kick-ass guitar solo in the middle eight. I am envisioning a troop of One campaigners dressed in military attire as the marching soldiers with Bono leading the pack in his ZooTV era military outfit from “Running To Stand Still.”

Okay, I kid. But still… It would be a great live song. I think the sequence that accompanied this song in the show was my favorite part. I was pleased when Lori-Jo also seemed to gravitate to that song as well (and how could she not, as an Edgegirl, with a guitar solo like that one?).

Anyway, it was really a lot of fun and worth every cent I paid for that ticket (it’s Broadway, after all). The only that was not enjoyable was the aforementioned children who disrupted my consciousness from being drawn into the action of the show. During every love song/sequence between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, the kids began to shift in their chairs and talk loudly. I know the fun theme of Spider-man appears to parents as an open invitation to bring their kids, but really, must they? Perhaps a parent should consider whether or not their child is capable of sitting quietly for two hours before bringing the to a live show…? I’m just saying. I don’t think my mom—who loves theatre—brought me to one live show before the age of 13.

Additionally, there were two adults in front of Lori-Jo who plainly had an inability to sit still. The man kept checking his phone or texting (and was reprimanded by the usher once) and the woman was constantly shuffling in her seat. Why do people like this even bother attending a show? I seriously started to wonder if perhaps New Yorkers are just more of the heckling type for every type of entertainment they attend (and I’d witnessed them at baseball games when I frequented Long Island for a former job). Some of the behaviors I witnessed in this audience would never have been allowed to happen at a show in Cleveland. I ended up giving some people my best stink-eye. Which didn’t seem to help much. Oh well.

The show ended to much applause, though, so people seemed to generally like it. On my way out, I stopped at a merchandise stand to make my contribution to Bono and The Edge’s lavish lifestyle and, probably, the education of their children. They are always thankful about me spending my “hard-earned,” after all. Hell, they deserved it after the year they had with this show. I bought a really cool women’s sized t-shirt that I plan to wear to the show in Pittsburgh.

The Foxwoods Theatre marquee. A "spectacular for all ages"? Maybe it should not so openly invite children!

Outside of the theatre, we took turns taking pictures of each other in front of the panel over the door that read “The Bono-Edge Score Really Rocks.” Because. Well. It does.

Erin and me (taking on Bono's persona with Lori-Jo's shades) pose outside the Foxwoods Theatre behind the glowing ad of Bono and Edge's musical score.

We went out for some post-show drinks afterwords but we pretty much called it night after that. Erin and I had another early morning wake up call as we had bought tickets on the 9am train back to Philly since Erin had drive from Atlanta and had to get back for work on Sunday.

Me and Lori-Jo (EdgeFest) on at street in Times Square.

I had the quintessential NYC experience–complete with a Naked Cowboy sighting earlier in the day–and I was able to enjoy it while hanging out with some fabulous new friends (Erin, Lori-Jo!!). I really left town with a feeling of satisfaction–a great concert, a great evening out on Broadway, a fun new adventure. You can’t ask for anything more!

A Champion

(Non-Buffy readers, please bear with this entry… it gets to a point about widowhood that’s well-worth wading through all this reference to a story you may know nothing about… I tried not to get into too much detail. And those of you who have never seen the final season of Buffy, and want to, this may contain spoilers…)

I finished the entire seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was an endeavor I started in January because I felt that the series was a missing piece in my geek knowledge of the sci-fi/fantasy lexicon. After watching the entire series–sometimes 3-4 in one sitting–I have to say that I really can’t believe I never watched this series sooner. There’s so many great themes in it–redemption, loss, free will. As a widow, there’s many points at which the series really drags some familiar feelings out of me. And it’s not just when Willow lost her girlfriend Tara. No, there’s a point at the very beginning of Season 6 in the wake of Buffy’s death where I feel something very familiar about the emptiness of loss. Without words, the first episode of that season speaks to something I understand–something everyone who has lost someone would understand–about the empty spaces left in life when someone dies. When her friends defy nature by resurrecting her through witchcraft, I understand, too, the selfishness of the act. I not only understand why her friends do such a thing–in a fictional universe where such things are possible–but I also understand why they shouldn’t do it.

I think I could speak volumes of the way the show really portrays the many shades of humanity–pointing out our human weaknesses and strengths, contrasting them always with the demonic creatures. I have so much more to say about the feelings about widowhood/loss that the series drew out of me. But what I wanted first to write about the relationship between Spike and Buffy in Season 7 because it’s freshest on my mind and I’ve been thinking about it since I finished the series yesterday.

Spike is probably one of the only characters in the entire series who is truly and honestly redeemed. I say that because he had a long way to come. He was a vampire who spent some 80 years of his life causing destruction and human suffering. Unlike Angel, he was not cursed with a soul; he asked for his back because in his love for Buffy he ultimately wanted to be a better person. This made him a completely different man (or should I say, vampire) from his once companion Angel… And it completely changed the way I feel about both characters (because prior to watching Buffy, I had only watched the series Angel and had a thing for the lead character). Angel learned to live with his situation as a changed man–“ensouled”–while Spike willingly asked for his soul and dealt with the torment of his past in almost a much more noble, less sniveling manner. (Though it did make him go a bit crazy for a while… but that’s to be expected when you suddenly feel the weight of the pain you caused thousands of people you killed. If you’re a vampire.)

Throughout Season 7, Spike is Buffy’s truest ally. He’s the only one of her friends who stays at her side when the group has a falling out with her. He brings her out of her depression when she decides to just give up and literally lie in bed. And there’s something about that scene that reminded me of a situation in my own life.

I was fired from a job in January 2000. It was the first and only time I’d ever been fired from a job. It was my first professional position. I was a software trainer for a software company. To this day, I’m not exactly sure how it happened or why, but I think it was mostly political.  I learned later that it’s quite possible that I unknowingly walked into a trap door when I asked my manager to come off the road and change positions, about two days after a mandate came from the company CEO (that I never heard) that he would fire the next trainer who asked to come off the road.

Either way, I was devastated when it happened. I had gotten the job through my husband–he’d worked there several years before I met him and had, in fact, been one of the main four developers who created the software that became the company’s mainstay. As a result of my connection to him, I had established a lot of friendships with people who had fond memories of a younger Mike. We sometimes hung out with a group of them at a local pub and I brought him again to the company parties he’d missed in the years since he’d left. The HR lady was, as we described, like a surrogate aunt to us.  She decorated our wedding and assembled all my bouquets. Over a year later, she also was the one who had to deliver the news of my firing.

I made the tragic mistake of youth. I’d made family out of my workplace. I assumed we were all buddies. Perhaps I went too far with my what I assumed I could and couldn’t do at that company. Perhaps I took for granted that everyone had known and loved Mike. When I was fired, I felt utterly betrayed.

On top of the betrayal was the fact that I’d never been fired from anything before in my life. I was an A student in college. I was the kind of kid a teacher or professor wanted in their class. To me, getting fired from a job was like getting an F on a paper. Or having to walk around the high school with a hall pass (which, as a 3.5+ average student in high school, I never had to do). I wasn’t used to rejection or reprimand. Even at 25 years old. Pathetic, right?

Well, I cried my eyes out as the HR lady gave me all the exit paperwork. I left the building crying. I cried the entire way home. It was Friday and Mike was out-of-town for work, as was normal, but unlike his usual schedule, he was not going to return that evening. He’d been training in Denver all week  (he was also a corporate trainer) and was going to spend the weekend with his dad and step-mom, then fly directly to his next assignment in Chicago the following week. I would not see him until the following weekend.

I called him from my cell phone on my way home. Which back in 2000 cost roaming airtime for calling out of my area. The phone was only really something I used for emergencies. I considered this an emergency. I couldn’t wait the half hour to get home to use a landline. And I called his cell phone.

He was driving with his dad out to Sterling where his grandparents lived. I pictured him somewhere in that wasteland of plains I knew was the trip between Denver and Sterling. I could hear his dad slightly in the background.

Mike was calm. His voice was controlled and I had no idea what exactly he was really thinking as he listened to the story I told with my tear-drenched voice. I’m not sure he understood exactly why I was so hysterical. I don’t think I could explain why I was so hysterical. I don’t remember our whole conversation, but I let him go, telling him that he didn’t need to change his plans for me. I would work it out, somehow, once I got home.

I felt like such utter crap. When I got home, I opened a bottle of wine and pretty much extinguished it. I know that wasn’t the best way to handle a troubling situation, but I thought it would numb some of the feeling of inadequacy I was feeling. Of course, it didn’t; in fact, it only made me feel worse. So when Mike called me again a few hours later, I was a complete pile of sniveling misery, drowning in my own self-pity and self-loathing. It’s ridiculous when I look back at it now because I know that I could never get that upset about losing a job again. Heaven knows, there certainly are worse things to cry over in life. But back then, the loss of a job was to me a reflection of failure somehow. It was tied as close to my identity as my accomplishments in college. To me, it was almost as if someone had taken away my bachelor’s degree or something.

Anyway, on the second phone conversation, Mike tried to cheer me up. He pumped me with compliments and even said some disparaging words about his old company, even though previously he’d only had wonderful things to say. He was taking my side. Even if my side was wrong to someone else, he believed in me. I was still feeling pretty bad for myself and I wasn’t quite receptive to his attempts to make me feel better. He even put his dad on the phone to say a few words. I was having none of it.

Again, he offered to come home and again I told him not to. The last thing I wanted to be was one of those demanding wives who make their men come at their bidding. I was a tough girl–despite my state–and I could handle the week on my own. I just figured I spend the weekend brooding and regroup when the sting of everything went away. When I could no longer remember sitting in that office while the HR lady–someone I considered a surrogate aunt–told me that I was being fired.

After I got off the phone with Mike, I think I pretty much passed out and didn’t wake up until the morning. I felt a little numb, but certainly not ready to do anything more than crash in front of the TV. I was sitting on the couch, snuggled in a blanket, when I heard the key turn in the door. My heart stopped as I watched the door open. Mike stood in the door, his body eclipsing the January sunlight and looking almost as if he were engulfed in a heavenly halo. He dropped his bags in the door and came over to the couch to hold me.

Not only did Mike change his plans and come home on the weekend when he’d originally planned to stay in Denver, but he also had another coworker fill in for him in Chicago the following week (the benefit of being a middle manager, as he was). His willing presence in my time of need soothed me… and immediately I started to feel better. I didn’t know I’d wanted him–I hadn’t even asked him for anything–but when he came home to me, it changed everything. He was my champion. I’d never had a champion before.

After he was home for a little while, and I was feeling more myself, he made plans for us for the week. He proposed that we take a few day trips to some state highpoints we hadn’t yet done. So one day we drove and “summitted” Mt. Davis in PA–1/09/2000, 3:30 pm, according to our log. A few days later we drove to western Ohio to bag Campbell Hill (01/15/2000, 11:15 am) and then to Hoosier Hill in Indiana (2:00 pm). By the time the week was over, with more adventures under our belt, I was ready to start looking for a new job. I don’t think I’d have healed so swiftly from this wound–which was more serious to me then than it is now–had it not been for Mike. Which is why I’ve always said that the only person who could have brought me solace in my grief was the very man for whom I was grieving.

The interaction between Spike and Buffy in the last several episodes of Season 7 totally jogged this memory because I can see in Spike the undying devotion and loyalty to Buffy that I think Mike had for me. I’m not so sure that much was returned from Buffy towards Spike, but I know in my case I would have walked to the ends of the Earth for Mike, especially after that day he came home to me because I was so upset and hurt. He lifted me up when I was down. That’s what the best of a relationship is supposed to do. I’d have done the same for him in any situation. I would have traded my life for his, just like Spike does for Buffy at the end of the last episode.

But the scene that most jogged this memory was when Spike came to Buffy in her moment of need, when she had given up on the world and lay aching in the literal bed of her despair. He came to her, providing confidence and self-assurance and reminding Buffy who she was. He was her champion–and champion was the word they used in the show–and I think Mike was my champion too. Except that I really did love him. (Spike and Buffy’s relationship might have been more or less lop-sided.)

The sweetest thing to happen between Buffy and potential lover occurred in those closing scenes. There was nothing sexual about it. Spike and Buffy just lay together in each other’s arms all night. That’s all I wanted too. A little relief from the storm. Mike was my relief. And from him, I regained my strength.

I guess some part of me still seeks a champion. It’s not that none of the people I’ve dated since Mike couldn’t be a champion. And it’s not that I make them run the gauntlet to prove themselves to me. I’m just saying that when I think of Mike’s most sincere acts of love, I’m reminded of the sort of love I had and revive in me the mission of finding the right person again. I can’t ever settle. I should never have to settle. I won’t settle.

I know Buffy is just a fiction story. But true fiction–truly great fiction–reflects themes of real life and remind us of the human struggle in new and creative ways. Many people might dismiss the series as  pulp fiction. But those people haven’t really spent the time to examine the show in its entirety. I have so many emotions right now whirring around about the show because it really connected me to a bunch of feelings I’ve never been quite able to adequately explain. I guess several episodes just made me scream, “Yes!! I get it!!” I’m sure there will be future entries about this topic, once I’ve had some moments to re-watch some of my favorite episodes…

Exhausting

Whenever I find myself exhausted from a week of socializing, I’m reminded of my life in Colorado and how it was completely opposite to the one I live here in all aspects, especially social. Maybe I didn’t know how to do it right–talk to people and throw myself into every common interest circle I could find. I thought I was doing it right back then by joining the Colorado Mountain Club and taking some outdoor adventure classes with them. I had some friends from the Highpointers Club that I immediately hooked myself up with, but they were a good ten years older than me, more established–they couldn’t hold my hand as I tried to make friends. I couldn’t expect anyone to hold my hand. I guess I had just figured I’d make friends as easy as I had in college, forgetting, of course, that in college we were all in the same boat of not knowing anyone and having to establish ourselves. In the adult world, it takes a lot of work to cultivate relationships. And I just didn’t try enough, which eventually led to me moving back to Ohio.

Maybe, too, I just wasn’t quite far enough in my grief journey to really let new people in. I saw Colorado as the fulfillment of a dream that Mike and I had for our lives. I viewed my move there as a way of continuing on the path on which I was originally headed. I didn’t yet realize that the path no longer led to where I wanted it to go, that a gate shut to close it off the moment the doctor in the emergency room told me that my husband was dead. I hadn’t yet realized that I sought spiritual comfort. I hadn’t yet realized how much I needed my friends and family in Ohio and instead I’d pushed them away in attempt to spare them the depths of my pain. I didn’t trust anyone enough with my heart. The only one I trusted in that way was gone forever.

When I think back to how spiritually and emotionally bereft I was back then, I feel especially blessed for the people I’ve met and associations I’ve affiliated myself with since my return. Somehow I managed to do it right, finally. I’ve figured out how to build a life of my own that can be as full and busy as I want it. Unfortunately, I don’t always know when to quit or say no. Which leads to the kind of week I had last week when I wore myself out with social activities. I had a lot of fun, but I must admit that I was totally exhausted by Friday which caused me to totally reject an invitation to dinner at Ray’s in Kent with my dad (which is something I usually look forward to). I also spent all day Saturday vegging out to the entire fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Well, not the entire season. I was on the second disc (of six) on Saturday morning. I tried to be good and only watch two episodes. But later in the day, when it became abundantly clear that I wasn’t in the mindset to do any writing, I submitted to the utter, gluttonous pleasure of finishing off the entire season. It was raining all day, anyway–weather fit for neither cycling nor skiing. Moving through the episodes of an entire season is like reading the chapters of a really good book; you keep saying that you’re going to stop after the next episode, but when you get to the end of the episode, the suspense is overwhelming and you feel compelled to continue.

I am tempering my guilt for being glued to the “boob tube” by reminding myself and everyone I talk to that this series is not just senseless garbage. It’s legitimately well-written and artistically crafted visual media. The plots and themes and characters are completely worthy of a scholarly dissection, which I find myself doing throughout the day as I ponder Joss Whedon’s view of the world. I like to consider where Joss has taken this fantastical world, especially realizing that he’s a self-proclaimed atheist who frequently writes on religious themes and explores them in his work (often mocking them). I’m thoroughly impressed by the tightness of the writing–Whedon’s characters generally stay within character, the mythos is pretty consistent within itself, and even in the darkest moments of the series, there are bits of sardonic humor that make the fantastic stories so utterly believable because you could see yourself reacting in much the same way as the characters. If Whedon and his team were writing this show without a vision, flying by the seat of their pants, I would never know it because every detail seems to tie back together at some point, even if it’s episodes or seasons later. (I suspect Amy the witch-turned-rat will eventually come back…?). So many television serials lack a strong, cohesive vision these days and it seems often that some writer came up with a great idea but then never thought it past the first story arc (i.e., Heroes). I think Whedon’s vision is always much stronger (with the exception of the disappointing Dollhouse).

Anyway, I didn’t mean to blab on about Buffy. It’s just that when I’m exposed to good writing–especially in a time when I’m feeling particularly uninspired–I’m filled with excitement. I guess that’s why I was an English major–I love a good story. I love to examine every piece and part of a good story. It’s really hard to please me. I’m often very picky and I hate when writers don’t fail to follow through on an originally good idea. I most hate a really bad ending. Battlestar Galactica‘s season finale ruined the whole series for me. Heroes failed to deliver after season 1 and I pretty much became bored with it. I loved Alice Sebold’s book The Lovely Bones until the over-the-top ending. I was completely rapt–late reading on work nights and everything– by Scarlett Thomas’ The End of Mr. Y, but again, the end was shoddy and didn’t make sense with the rest of the story. I have a five-star rating system for books and movies and while I award a lot of 4’s, I award a 5-star rating to only those works that have kept me going from start to finish and have left me thirsty for more when the words or picture stopped. A good writer doesn’t give away all his/her secrets; he/she should leave his/her readers a little hungry to keep them dreaming up theories and conclusions about the work for the rest of their lives. That’s the kind of writing I love most. That’s the kind of writer I aspire to be.

Needless to say, I’ve pretty much got Buffy on my mind when I’m not running all over Northeast Ohio trying to see and do everything. Despite the onset of mental and physical exhaustion at the end of this past week, I must admit I had fun participating in the following activities.

Monday. After a meeting at work that ran over to 6:30pm, I made it just in time to see Alice in Wonderland, in 3D, with some friends from my church. Thanks to Randy (mentioned later in this post) who waited outside the theater for me to arrive. Monday night at the movies is becoming a habit for me these days. It’s $5 movie night in Kent and it’s nice to finally have a group of people to go see movies with. I think one of the reasons I haven’t seen many movies in the last couple years is because I feel like a reject going by myself… And finding a movie that the group all wants to see is no problem with me as I’ll watch almost anything in my eternal search for a really good (epic) story. I try not to judge movies by their trailers.

Tuesday. I went to Lakewood Library for the Lake Erie Wheelers’ meeting with guest speaker Kevin Madzia from Century Cycles who talked about his trip from Ohio to Guatemala. I may consider doing some self-contained bike touring–though maybe not at quite this length–so I was interested in hearing the gory details of his adventure. The details of his trip–the good and the bad–kind of inspired me to learn more about self-contained trips on which I might take Beau. Maybe some weekend trip or something is in order for the future. Ideally, I’d like to someday ride from my house to… somewhere… in some other state… But I have not yet come up with a goal for this.

Wednesday. Some friends from (again) church invited me to a werewolf movie night. What is a werewolf movie night? It evidently involves homemade reubins, corned beef and cabbage, and various other snacks washed down with homemade beer and (store-bought) wine while we watched American Werewolf in London and the old Lon Chaney Wolfman.  This event was hosted by Randy who, along with his wife Mary, is  the perpetual host of themed-dinner nights. I love going to Randy and Mary’s place because they both enjoy cooking as well as hosting and they are very good at both. They also like good wine and beer. My friend Colleen also deserves mention here for the excellent corn beef and cabbage she cooked up, not to mention the homemade horseradish sauce! I had fun, but I stayed too late even though I told myself I wasn’t going to. *dramatic sigh*

Thursday. I attended a Hiram alumni event called Five-Live which refers to the five cities who were hosting like gatherings. Being the Cleveland contingent, closest to Hiram’s campus, we got to watch live the speech college president Thomas Chema gave about the state of the college while the other sites watched via web cam. My feelings were somewhere between jealousy and envy as I listened to all the changes underway at the college. Why does your school always get better things after you’re gone? The enrollment has increased to 1,100 students–still small, but quite a difference compared to the 800 students who attended while I was there. When asked what we, as alumni, could do to help the college, one of Chema’s answers was help with recruitment. Damn, I keep trying! No one else I know has college-aged kids who are willing to go to a small liberal arts college in the middle of an Ohio cornfield… But believe me, if I could convert a few people to the Light of Hiram (whose emblem proudly bears the words Fiat Lux: Let there be light!), I certainly would. Best years of my life at that school, I’ll tell you. (Next to those years I spent with my husband, that is.)

Of course, I stayed there a bit too long, gabbing with a former student I had as a teaching assistant for First Year Seminar (I think) who is really well on her way to becoming a candidate for Cleveland’s City Counsel soon… If not something higher and mightier.  John, the newly appointed Director of Alumni Relations, a friend, bestowed me and Diane each with an extra drink ticket. (What? Do I have “drunk” written across my head? “Wino” perhaps?). Again, I stayed too late. Got lost on the way home as I missed one of the confusing turn-offs on Canal Road in the valley. I always have the darndest time trying to get back home from Independence–I assure you it had nothing to do with the amount of wine I drank. I always miss the road I’m supposed to take to get back home whenever I go down there and then I end up in Oakwood or Northfield. (I once was senselessly lost for two hours with my best friend when trying to take the “back way” from her house in Cleveland to mine in Stow.) I have horrible directional sense unless I drive the same route every day for at least a year. I think I’m totally a candidate for a GPS in my car…

So that was my week. Surely you can see why I became anti-social for a day and a half. This coming week should be much calmer. I’ll try not to let it get too out of control. Next weekend, however, is my birthday weekend. I took my actual birthday (the 22nd) off from work and I’ll either, depending on the weather, do a day trip to Peek N Peak or ride my bike somewhere. I have plans for my birthday all weekend, but they’re much more subdued than they’ve been in the past. I didn’t want to put everyone out with my big birthday dinner. It will be nice to be a little more relaxed, anyway.

It’s good to have friends. It’s good to have places to go where I’m not so lonely. And I know that I’ve really found my place at home here in Ohio. Despite its disagreeable winters and the mass exodus of people my age, I think I’ll probably stay here until I die. I’m really a Clevelander at heart and it’s the only place where I feel comfortable. I’m still holding out hope that I will someday be able to afford a second home in Colorado to which I can escape for a month or so in the winter… But until then, all my dream’s are just a plane’s ride away. My friends are here, my family is here; this is where I belong.

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How I zombied myself through winter

No boyfriend. No prospects of a boyfriend in my immediate future. The cycling off-season (at least for me; I know there are some more intrepid souls than myself out there). Can’t ski whenever I want due to financial constraints (or until the Millennium Pass at Boston Mills becomes available at the end of February). Yeah, I should be working on my memoir (especially after Divine Revelation was channeled through Joanna to me yesterday). But, as Natalie Goldberg–or was it Joyce Dyer?–says, “Procrastination is a part of the writing process.”

So in light of all this, I’m pushing my way through the winter blues by watching movies. I only recently learned that the Kent cinemas at the University Plaza has $5 movie Mondays. I’ve spent the last three Mondays there and have seen:

It’s Complicated – Wildly funny in a new way that stood out with its own plot. Found myself attracted to both Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. I give it four out of five stoked doobies.

Up in the Air – Another great film with a depressing non-Hollywood ending. So of course I loved it. Found myself attracted to George Clooney and I have previously never found him attractive. I give it four out of five empty backpacks of melancholy.

Avatar (in 3D, $3 extra) – Oh. My. God. I cried in it twice because I’m a sap that way. Great statement about how big corporate-run countries (um, like America?) treat smaller, under-developed nations (like Iraq? Afghanistan? I’m just saying…) Anyone who doesn’t see the correlations between today’s events and the events of this movie just isn’t looking hard enough, or is completely unable to grasp the concept of metaphors and correlative stories (like some people I have known). I gave it five out of five big flame-colored birds that bond for life with their riders.

In addition to watching movies at the theater (looks like I may be seeing Book of Eli soon with some friends soon), my friend Kat has been spoon-feeding me Alan Rickman porn. Erm, I mean movies, but to me it mine as well have been porn. So far I’ve watched Truly Madly Deeply (rated: three out of five annoying ghost friends, for reasons I mentioned in a prior post) and Mesmer (rated: two out of five weird wizardry come-on lines that were just excuses to touch women). I’ve got two more Alan Rickman movies in the batter’s box waiting for me to devote my attention to… I’ll get there on a day when I’m really trying hard to procrastinate with my writing…

Joanna lent me all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so that I can get completely versed on Joss Wheadon, just in time for his latest show (Dollhouse) to get taken off the air. Yay, me, for being a Johnny-Come-Lately to the whole Buffy craze. I have to be honest, I avoided it before because everyone was into the show when it was on… and my mistrusting, non-conforming genes prevent me from jumping on any bandwagons so quickly. Which is why I have not fallen prey to the Lost phenomenon. At least, not yet. I’ll probably like it in about 10 years after everyone’s over it. Seems I only like shows that last a season and then come off the air (Earth 2, Related) . Or go on too long and I’ve become bored with them (Heroes). Or end with large deflating, disappointment (Battlestar Galactica). So I end up watching a lot of eye garbage (Gossip Girl, The Real World, 18 and Counting).

So I’m keeping real busy over here with vegetative distraction. I’m thinking I should just get rid of cable. It’s costing too damned much. I’ll just go on Netflix and after I make it through Buffy, I’ll start renting old, dead TV series to enjoy (still need to see the rest of Six Feet Under). And more movies. I’ll be cultured again instead of giving people the blank look when they make a reference to a movie that only came out two weeks ago which I haven’t seen. (What? I was riding my bike the last five weekends, I don’t have time to go to a movie!)

It makes me miss the days when I was dating men who loved to go to movies. My husband was one of those–he loved performance media (which also included musicals and live theatre, ha!). One of my post-Mike ex-es also loved movies; when I was dating him, I was the movie 4-1-1. I generally love to go to movies. I guess in the summer I just feel guilty sitting around when I could be outside doing something physical. This, of course, reminds me that I really need to seek balance in my life. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing cycling; all or nothing movies. I need to spread out my attention. Hang with new people, too. Maybe sometimes I’ve used cycling as another way to close myself from the world… Hmmm… that’s a deeper thought that I wanted to get into in this entry.

Speaking of spreading out my attention… hello, telescope? I’m so sorry I’ve neglected you… *sigh* Betcha you didn’t even know I have an 8″ Dobsonian mounted reflector telescope, that I once spent entire evenings from dusk until dawn, looking at nebulae, star clusters, planets, and carbon stars on an astronomy field with bunches of other geeks. I won’t say how long it’s been. My friend T would come kick my ass. And he’d have to drive all the way from Toronto. I’d hate to do that to him.

So many hobbies, so many interests, so little time…

PS: Happy birthday, DeForest Kelley. Sorry that I was too tired after work to buy a party hat for my Dr. McCoy life-sized cut-out. I’ll make it up to you on the weekend, baby! XOXO. (Will anyone mind if I start bringing Bones to parties as my date??)

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Truly Madly Deeply

It’s been cold here in the Midwest and lately I’ve been feeling the drive to hibernate. I can always tell I’m switching to hibernate mode when I feel the sudden urge to catch up, in one sitting, with all the movies I’ve missed throughout the cycling season. In the last week, I’ve watched District 9 (loved it), The Other Boleyn Girl (eh, not so much), Religulous (funny but a bit too Michael Moore-ish in presentation, Bill Maher was a bit snarky at times), and Hancock (cute!). On Monday, I even ventured out with some friends to see It’s Complicated (very cute!). In an actual theater. I think the last time I went (alone) to see a movie in a theater was Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince this past summer.

My friend Kat contributed to my state of hibernation by beginning me on a crash course of “Alan Rickman Education” as she calls it, loaning me a few movies from her personal collection. I’ve always had a crush on Alan Rickman which really evolved into full-blown lust with his role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies. I’ve always had a thing for Goth men. (Sidebar: I wanted to be Goth when I was in high school, but I feared the disapproval of my mother and I was having enough trouble trying to fit in with my peers being dressed straight-laced as I was.) So a dark-haired Rickman wearing eye-liner and black clothes is obviously very appealing. And that voice…. Oh, that voice! What’s not to love about a deep, distinctive voice with a slight British lilt?

My Rickman Education began with Truly Madly Deeply–a movie that everyone but me has previously seen and adored. I mean, hell, it’s only 20 years old. I’ve obviously never been very good at keeping up with movies. And that was before my life as a cyclist/skier/wine aficionado.

Anyway, Truly Madly Deeply is about Nina, a woman who has, in some time period before the movie starts, lost her lover, Jaime (played by Rickman), from a sudden illness that started with a sore throat. The first third of the film focuses on her daily life as she struggles with the loss, introducing you to her world and the people in her life who care about her. I found these sequences very realistic from her bouts of angry tears while talking to her therapist to the wounded offense she takes to her sister’s request for Jaime’s cello so that her son can take lessons. I give the script-writer full kudos for the very real words that pulled on my heart-strings, reminding me of my own moments of trying to cope in those first years after Mike died.

The story takes a leap into the paranormal when Jaime returns from the dead to be with Nina in an apparently solid, human form, though it’s clear from his explanation that he’s a ghost. Oh if only such things were possible! It is so easy to be swept up in those first passionate scenes between Nina and Jaime because it is a widow/widower’s dream come true. I know I’d trade all of my earthly possessions to have just one entire day with Mike again. I think a lot of people who lost their lover just a bit too soon would feel similarly. In fact, it is not uncommon for a widow/widower to dream of their spouse returning suddenly into their lives. The human mind, apparently, has a huge disconnect when it comes to the idea of someone simply no longer existing. It’s probably why we cling so tightly to religion. We’d rather think of ourselves and our loved ones as continuing somewhere… It’s part of the reason I practice faith, despite the rather selfish nature of my yearning.

At first, the reunion is a welcome blessing. Even though you, as the viewer, know pretty much from his first appearance on-screen that there’s no way the laws of nature can be broken to allow this union to be permanent. No one I know has been “allowed” to return from the dead and stay among the living, not even in fiction. Some of the warning signs to the unhappy demise are subtle. Jaime is plagued with a perpetual feeling of coldness that he cannot overcome despite every attempt he makes to find warmth. Could it be his body–the mortal coil to which he clings–can no longer generate heat? We learn too that rats “fear” ghosts. Rats, who boldly walk across Nina’s sleeping body at the beginning of the film, cower and hide in the presence of unnatural immortality. Hmm. I get it.

Jaime starts bringing his “ghost friends” to Nina’s place. The ghosts are apparently obsessed with watching old movies. They become annoying like the rude poker buddies of your husband or boyfriend. They are over every night and they never sleep. And it’s like they don’t ever want to be alone. Almost like a normal couple, Nina and Jaime begin to argue about the unwelcome house guests. You see the relationship crumbling as Nina seeks more and more engagement with the outside world. I’m not really sure what the writers had in mind with this ridiculous situation. I mean, it was kind of comical and cute–all these annoying, pesky ghosts dressed like bums and street beggars–but I am not sure it painted an honest image in my mind of what the real problems of living with the ghost of your former lover might be… Well, as real as any such situation could be…

Regardless, this movie would have worked for me but for one bad plot decision: Nina starts to fall in love with another (living) man. Which I really, really detest. How long was she widowed from Jaime at this point in the movie? It seems implied that it wasn’t that long. Having her find a new love interest so quickly just feeds into the popular idea that the way to mend a broken heart is to replace the loneliness with new love. As someone who dated at least two men too soon after her husband’s death, I have to say that this is giving the general public, as well as other people who have lost their loved ones, the completely wrong idea. In fact, it is this idea that pushed me to start dating again too soon after Mike died. Shamefully, too soon was just seven months and I did feel pressure from my friends to initiate the relationship because I knew they thought it would fix me.

Dating before a person is ready does a horrible disservice to the “rebound” guy. Believe me, at least one of those too soon relationships I had ended because I simply was not emotionally ready to be with someone who wasn’t Mike. I think most people need at least a year to sort out their feelings after a loss like this. At least. These kind of fairytale movies promote an idea that encourages inappropriate responses from people to a grieving person, such as the insensitive ass who said to me, as I stood beside Mike’s casket at the wake, “Don’t worry. You’re young. You’ll find love again.”

I think this movie should have ended with Nina coming to her own conclusion–sans emotional involvement with another man–that she and Jaime couldn’t continue their “unconventional relationship.” There actually was a great scene in which she does start to figure this out and even Jaime quotes this beautiful poem about “letting go,” but for some reason she backs off and begs him never to leave. And then in the next scene, she’s off flirting with the new guy. Talk about mixed messages. The movie really should have ended with a tearful goodbye and Jaime leaving/disappearing/agreeing to go, leaving us viewers with a mature message about letting go of a past you can’t get back even in magical circumstances. Instead, with the new love prospect in the next scene, the implied message of the movie is, “It’s a lot easier to move on if you have another lover waiting in the wings.” It really cheapened the idealism of the movie.

I guess this is the same problem I have with Sleepless in Seattle. I think it’s a huge burden to lay the pains of an old loss at the feet of a new lover. A grieving person needs to work through their pain and feelings of loss in order to become whole within themselves enough to be able to love someone else for who they are completely. This also applies to people who are divorced. Marriage–or even a long-term relationship in which two people have shared a life together–is a literal bond between two people. A couple spends a portion of their lives working in communion together. If done correctly, there’s less “me” and more “us.” When that bond is removed suddenly–whether through death or divorce–it is almost like losing a limb. You have to figure out how to do things for yourself again. Everything. From shared life goals to simple allocation of chores, the fabric of a couple’s life is interwoven in ways you don’t even realize until one of the threads is missing. The unraveling and re-weaving is a lot of work. I had a long road of rediscovery in the years since Mike died. I’ve had to reshape my goals for myself. I’ve had to find new interests, new hobbies, and new ways to network.

I guess I’m a little reactionary and sensitive about the messages the media gives our society about death issues because I think the media is exactly where people get the ideas of how they think they should act when faced with death. It leads people to say stupid things they think are valiant, give advice they think is helpful, and expect behaviors from a grieving person that just aren’t realistic. It puts a lot of pressure on a person who is grieving and, as was in my case, often makes them feel afraid to express themselves. I can’t tell you how many times people told me I was strong when I felt like I was exploding inside. But I never had the courage to tell anyone how I felt, fearful it would make them uncomfortable or cause them to give me unwanted (bad) advice. And it often did. Which lead me to retreat further into myself.

I’m trying to remember if there’s a movie I think that handles death well in my opinion… Hmmm…. I guess I don’t know of any at the moment. But I can say, I’d like to see something truthful and hopeful without the whole “new romance” angle. There has to be a movie where you see a person’s perspective change for the better in some other enlightening fashion. We need more widows and widowers to write their stories down and tell them like they are. We all know the truth about our situations… and only we can tell it the way it really happens… Someday one of us is going to get a different story told…

As an ironic side note, about half way through the movie, I realized that Truly Madly Deeply was the movie my mother-in-law was trying to tell me about in the weeks after Mike’s death. It’s kind of strange because I’ve thought about her describing of this movie for years. I’ve wondered about this movie and even questioned the memory of her telling me about it. You never can tell–those memories of that first year after Mike’s death are so hazy, vague, and garbled. I even started to write my own version of the story, first in my head and, most recently, this past October down on paper. I think I’m still going to finish my own version of a fiction story where a husband comes back to be with his wife. It will, of course, be completely different. But I have to say that I feel I’ve come full circle, these many years later, having finally seen the movie my mother-in-law told me about. We don’t talk to each other for a laundry list of reasons these days, but it still feels like a gift she gave to me by opening my eyes to be on the look out for it. Despite my displeasure with how the movie ended, it was good to pick up another loose end in my wandering widow’s walk.

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Movie review in haiku

Here is a haiku I wrote during a meeting yesterday while reflecting on my thoughts of the new Star Trek movie.

Alternate time line:
Hollywood’s licence to change
Sacred cannon lore.

I know I am one of the only people who was disappointed by this movie. Even my Star Trek fan buddies were taken by this new re-envisioning of the original Star Trek series. But I just had a problem with this whole premise that now creates an alternate reality in which a new version of the old crew can become another franchise. I smell marketing, marketing, marketing. More movies using our beloved old characters–younger versions of themselves in an alternate time line. Beh!

I don’t like change, though, so don’t take it from me. I guess the movie brought new fans into this much “cooler” version of Star Trek. Now it’s hype to be a Trekkie. Great. I’ve longed for that day when my love of Star Trek did not label me as a geeky fan girl. Some part of me, however, feels stingy and does not want to share my geeky love with non-geeks who are only wooed by special effects.

Why can’t Hollywood just let classics stay classics without nit-picking them to death? Why remake something that was already good, had a fan base, once? Are we running out of ideas? None of the remakes I’ve seen in the last several years have ever given me what the original did: Dawn of the Dead, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Time Machine (gacks, that was a true, sad failure). Leave the classics alone, I say. New CGI does not replace the more creative plots offered from the days when the special effects were minimal. Seems back then we focused more on plot substance. That’s what made the original series of Star Trek good–not the horribly costumed aliens, but the great plots. What the original series lacked in eye candy, it more than made up for in character-building and interesting ideas.

You don’t believe me? Well, you’re not trying hard enough to imagine. I have an active imagination and Star Trek sparked that in me with episodes such as:

Space Seed, the original appearance of Khan Noonian Singh, which explored the topic of genetics and the consequences of manufacturing “superior” beings.

Let This Be Your Last Battlefield, which explored racism with beings from a planet at war with each other–one race with black on the left side of its face and one with black on the right.

Journey to Babel, which explores the complex relationship between a father and a son, both Vulcan but both with very human problems of handling each other. (Also a great episode where my darling McCoy smugly gets the last word.)

The Mark of Gideon in which a war-torn world sends its people on both sides to death chambers determined by a lottery system run by a war computer. People no longer fight wars, but there are still casualities. Interesting idea for a modern age. And scary.

Sure there were cheesy episodes too (Spock’s Brain, Plato’s Stepchildren). You’ll have that with any series. No writer or team of writers is on the money every day. I just feel that they could have written a story using the existing cannon from the current time line without inserting this alternative timeline idea. They had me believing everything up until the point where the Nimoy Spock came into the picture. I know JJ Abrams thought he would please more fans by using this alternate timeline idea because he wouldn’t have to deal with the pressure of inconsistencies, but I think he did more to hurt the series by making a “new” cast and crew.

I kept expecting the movie to end with them somehow reversing time and putting us back into the “real” Star Trek universe. It would have been another cheesy plotline to fix the broken past, but I’d have accepted it more readily than this ending that leaves us with a destroyed Vulcan, a fatherless Kirk, and two Spocks talking to each other.

It just seems to me that as the technology for special effects and realistic visuals increases, the story telling, plot lines, and character dialog decreases. I think I’ll go back to reading books where I don’t need any fancy effects to feed my hunger for a good story.

Disfingeration

Remember sniglets? This was a term coined by comedian Rich Hall in an old HBO show from the 1980s called Not Necessarily the News, which if memory serves, was a lot like what The Daily Show is today only without all that ever-lovable 1980s cheese and corny-ness. As Hall defined them, sniglets are words that “don’t appear in the dictionary but should.” I was young when my parents used to watch the show, but I’ve always been very aware of language and sound. I loved to invent my own words for sounds. I still love to invent my own words. I feel I’ve been given license to do so with my English degree.

Anyway, in a meeting yesterday at work, I coined my own sniglet: disfingeration, the misalignment of your fingers on the computer keyboard that causes you to type an almost patterned gibberish. For example, the result of moving your right hand slightly to the left of the keyboard, keeping your fingers in the “correct” keyboarding positions: /cine frin nars. (Translation: [Shift] I come from mars.)

I am thinking of it as a combination of the words “disfigured” (which describes how your text looks when you finally look up what you’ve typed on the screen) and “finger” which is actually what is causing the problem. Also, don’t forget that “dis” harkens to “dislocation,” which is what your fingers do. Admit it–it’s just a great new word.

The new word was inspired by the guy who fell victim to disfingeration while his computer screen was projected on the meeting room wall. The term came to me on the fly, which is really rare as my comedic “genius” is usually not quite so impromptu. I suppose everyone catches a break now and then. My co-workers seemed to agree that it was a fitting name. I hope it catches on!

Khan!!!

I’m slow to the news this week, but I did hear this yesterday and forgot to say something… Richardo Mantalban, beloved to the Star Trek universe as Captain Kirk’s super-genius nemisis, Khan Noonian Singh, died on January 14, 2009. I knew he was having quite a few medical issues, though I’m not sure exactly to the nature of them. He was 88 years old.

I also used to watch Fantasy Island as a kid. But I loved him best as Khan, hissing “Keeeerk!” as he spat lines from Moby Dick. RIP, Richardo Mantalban.

Random Thoughts on Heroes volume 3

I finally got to finishing the season 3 of Heroes last night. It just kind of happened. I worked late yesterday because I’ve got a deadline rearing up at work (believe it or not) and I didn’t get home until 8. I made dinner because my Martian belly was rumbling and by the time I finished, there really was no point to exercising, so I just tucked myself in with the last three episodes of Heroes to be done with it all. That series is really hard to watch in bits, anyway, because it’s written like a comic book–it always ends right in the middle of some suspenseful scene. So if you have a queue full of episodes, as I did, it’s very easy to talk yourself into watching “just enough of the next episode to see how the last scene in previous episode turned out.” But by the time you get through that, you’re hooked into watching the rest of it out, no matter what.

The only problem that I discovered is that Heroes tends to run over its scheduled time by five minutes and, for some dumb-assed reason I will never understand, I had the episode set to tape for just an hour, which shouldn’t even be an option in this age of DVRs were the DVR kind of “knows” when the episode starts and ends. For example, I can start recording a show right in the middle and the DVR will pick up the entire show. I learned this a few times when my phone rang while I was watching a show that I wasn’t recording, and so I’d start recording it to continue watching when I got off the phone. When I’d go to view it, the whole episode is there, not just the part forward from where I started to record.

So, tell me, if the DVR can record an entire show even though I started recording it in the middle of its program, why can’t the damn thing just know to record the entire show I selected to record without me having to tell it to record 5 minutes on each end of its listed time so that I can get the whole show?

Anyway, I’m real pissed about this because you know that last cliff-hanging scene I was telling you about? Well, the recording was stopping at an hour, right in the middle of that scene. Ugh!!! So, actually, I was watching the next episode so that I could see the introduction sequence that showed you–sometimes–what happened in the last scene.

Well, don’t you worry, I fixed that little issue on the series recording options, but it’s not going to do me any good until sometime in January when Season 4 (Volume 4) starts. It’s too bad I didn’t know this was happening about ten episodes ago when I stopped watching the series live…

So, here are my random observations at the end of Volume 3. If you watch the show, you’ll know what I’m talking about; if you don’t, you’ll just skim or become bored with this entry. Oh well.

  • I am glad that my original instinct of never liking nor trusting Nathan Petrelli has paid off.
  • How did Peter Petrelli go from being cute into becoming some sort of self-important weenie? I’m annoyed with his character now.
  • Where did that speedy blonde chick come from? I must have missed a few episodes at the beginning of this series. But I like her! She’s cute and she’s a character you can empathize with.
  • Speedy Blonde Chick can’t have Matt Parkman! He’s mine! I’ve loved him since he appeared on Felicity. Okay, I mean, the actor, Greg Grunburg, was in Felicity. Why does Greg always play characters I find endearing? He’s not even really a hot guy, per se. It’s just the characters he plays.
  • I’m so glad Ando got some powers! Even though I usually find the scenes in Japanese with Hiro quite annoying.
  • LOVED what they did with Sylar (Zachary Quinto, soon to be young Spock in the new Star Trek movie)–the whole inner battle he has between wanting to be loved and having all these murderous desires. Very Darth Vader; that is, how Darth Vader’s fall should have been. Love it, love it, love it. Especially gruesome was the brief love interlude during the eclipse between him and Elle, and how once he got his powers back, the brutality returns and he kills her. Sylar’s arc was probably the best one this entire season!! (Why do we all love to hate the bad guys?)
  • Do you think Dad Petrelli is really dead? His fall seems too easy, but was, again, a great Sylar moment! (And equally weenie Peter Petrelli moment… boo!)
  • Jessica/Niki/Tracy is annoying in all her incarnations.
  • I think I missed the episodes where Mohinder Surresh turned himself into a monster, but that was vaguely interesting.
  • Does anyone still know what the heck is going on? I do love how unpredictable this series has been for me. What a relief! Very hard to stump an English major, you know. We’ve been around the classics quite a bit. We have heard it all, it seems.
  • I really enjoyed the shout-out salute to comic book geeks everywhere in the last two episodes of the season where Seth Green (another actor I’ve got a hot crush on), as a comic book shop employee, help the heroes figure out their next move based on his geeky knowledge of the comic book-inside-the show–almost better knowledge of the series than the actual characters within the series! Loved it, loved it, loved it!! Green’s character refers to “Heroes Origins #1”–cracked me up! I felt like I was sitting in a room with my cousin Gary and all his geeky comic book friends. It was the same familiar feeling I got watching Galaxy Quest where I got all the jokes because I’ve hung in that particular subculture. It was a beautiful moment. This series has great writers!

Great series, so I’m glad my illness at least got me caught up on one of my favorite television shows. And, to boot, I woke up this morning feeling much better than I have in days. Thank the gods of Olympus Mons! I think The Cold is clearing! To the bike on Sunday, I say! Ha-HA! (Now I only have cold weather to blame if I bail!)