The Desolation of Robot King



I’ve always been more of a Daily Show person than a Colbert Report person. I guess I just like my humor a little more straightforward. In case anyone has noticed, I’ve tried writing this post several times before, having put something up and taken it down at least twice before. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm. I don’t usually write like this, but these past few weeks have been a bit tumultuous. You ever have those days where you wake up wanting to watch the whole world burn? Yeah, I’ve been having a little bit of that lately. It’s a combination of financial stress, time-management problems, and the interpersonal friction that can happen when you spend prolonged amounts of time around the same group of people. I’m trying to remember the line from that David Foster Wallace speech I’ve posted once or twice: “This is water.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it or check YouTube. I don’t feel like linking to it again.

chris rockI’m having more trouble going to bed lately. I like to think of myself as a morning person, but since I can’t just go to bed after getting home late in the evening, I always need a few hours to unwind, meaning that I typically go to bed around 1 am these days. This needs to stop. I just can’t seem to turn my brain off, and on countless occasions, I’ve gone to bed, then gotten up to watch some silly YouTube video or something that I thought about watching earlier but didn’t get around to. How does something that tiny lodge itself so deeply in your brain? Sometimes that happens multiple times in a night and I overcompensate by staying up until 1:30 or 2 as if to say, “What do you want from me?” I’ve missed one or two shifts at my new job because I keep misreading my schedule and it makes me furious. I need every dollar I can get, yet more than once, I have come in to work only to find that I’m supposed to stay later than I thought (but still have to leave early because I already made plans) or gotten a call from my supervisor saying that I was supposed to come in today. I am very, very careful in copying down my schedule every week, yet somehow, that still happens. What the fuck, universe?

I’m generally pretty reliable when it comes to shit like this. I have locked myself out of my car (once), locked myself out of my apartment (once), and recently locked myself out of my locker at the gym for the first time. (I had to get somebody else to run and get an employee because I couldn’t go running out there in just a towel.) Something is out of joint. I know nobody’s perfect, but there’s a reason I solve jigsaw puzzles for fun and write a blog that’s all about hating humanity: it’s because I’m a perfectionist. Specifically, I’m an INFJ with OCD, and yes, I have used that line before. One on hand, maybe it means that I’ll save the world that day. Because I do see things that other people don’t see. I often tell other people that they are wrong about something despite having less firsthand knowledge of the subject than they do. And you know what? I’m usually right.

My supervisor doesn’t even seem to much mind that I keep screwing up my schedule. That’s not the point. When I was doing theater back in high school and didn’t get a part I wanted, my mother thought I was being a spoiled diva by storming around the house. She didn’t get it, either, which is part of the reason why I keep my distance from her these days. I was angry at myself for not getting a role that I was certain I could have played. It wasn’t my fault; the director liked someone else and there was nothing I could do about it. (The dude did fine in the role, by the way, but I was kind of competitive with him. He’s a nice fellow, but kinda boring. I’m not.) When I turned on my phone today and saw that I had a voicemail, I prayed that it was my mother for the first time ever. Of course, it wasn’t. I’ve had enough of a hassle working with my student loans and trying to get my employment situation straightened out. It might actually be nice to get a message from her saying, “Call me sometime. Bye.” Because I don’t have to worry about that, you see.

I’m going to have to see The Hobbit sometime, probably next week. What I’ve heard about it is that it’s the worst of the three, which is kinda depressing considering the lukewarm opinion I had of the first two. What happened to the Peter Jackson who was both a technical wizard and a strong storyteller? Neither of those elements are on display in these films. They are bloated and overlong, and they look like video games. I guess he just got carried away with himself. Stephen Colbert is, like, the biggest Tolkien nerd on the planet. I love Tolkien, but I don’t feel the need to know everything about him. Colbert’s humor is more “out there” than Stewart’s ever was. When one of his bits flops, I often find myself scratching my head wondering what he was even going for in the first place. Since the news is filtered through the lens of the character he plays, it’s not as grounded. Stewart just reacts to the news; Colbert tries to insert himself into it. It’s funny, though.

I like to think of what I’m going through these days as nothing more than growing pains. I’ve asked a couple friends for financial assistance and we’ll see if I get it. Just don’t feel sorry for me, that’s all. I have enough problems of my own. I can’t carry yours around, too.


Let’s Talk About Nostalgia

It’s getting harder and harder to remember what day of the week it is. I keep thinking it’s the weekend on a day on which I don’t have work, which I suppose means that I need to find more ways to stay busy, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Part of me still wants lots of time to sit around and do nothing. Yes, I have largely put that shitty experience in Queens behind me, but that doesn’t mean I’m over it completely, nor does it mean that I’m ready to start working full-time so that I can start pinching pennies and find my own place. This would be easier if I had somebody to share all of this with, but I’m alone most of the time, and that’s how it’s been for most of my life. So for the time being, I will focus on getting more reading, writing, exercising, and TV and movie viewing done than hard labor. I’m not ready for more labor, although I might be fairly soon.

Something occurred to me the other day: When I move back to New York, how will I work out the logistics? Looking for an apartment from the other side of the country might prove difficult. I could always find a place to stay for a little while while I look, but there are only so many friends in that area who would be willing to let me crash on their couch (there should be at least a couple, I think) and staying in a hostel gets expensive if you do it for more than a couple days. Then there’s the problem of job-hunting. If I’m lucky, I might be able to have one lined up before I move out there, but if not, I’m going to need at least a couple thousand saved up to cover my expenses until I get established (in addition to what I’ll need to cover moving and housing costs, of course). That is a fairly substantial sum of money. And I’m not sure if I’ll be able to have all that saved up by the winter. If I liked the place I were staying at currently, maybe I wouldn’t have to worry as much about expenses. But I don’t like my current situation. I grow less and less enamored of it by the day.

I went by my old college town yesterday to see The Wind Rises. It was a pretty good movie, maybe not Miyazaki’s best, but not his worst, either. (Ponyo was cute, but it barely even had a conflict, let alone a story.) Miyazaki generally seems less interested in giving each story a villain and a linear storyline than most American filmmakers. Film people used to debate whether Pixar or Ghibli was the better animation studio, and while I think comparisons between artists are always something of an apples-and-oranges thing, I’m definitely leaning towards Ghibli. Pixar hasn’t made a great film since, I don’t know, actually, and these days, they seem way more interested in churning out sequels and prequels to stuff that didn’t even need it to begin with than producing good original work. (And yes, I am excited for The Incredibles 2, but I actually found Toy Story 3 a bit rote. My eyes kind of glazed over during the action scenes, as if there was little in them that I hadn’t seen a million times before. Miyazaki likes his villains to be reasonable people who are just misunderstood. Pixar makes them evil right to the core. The truth is somewhere in between.) On a side note, I wasn’t too big on Porco Rosso when I first saw it, but looking back, I think it might be growing on me.

I didn't start reading Discworld until I was older. Funny stuff.

I didn’t start reading Discworld until I was older. Funny stuff.

I stopped by a used bookstore and picked up a bunch of Piers Antony’s Xanth books. I read a lot of shitty fantasy when I was a kid. Piers Anthony was just before my time. (Redwall was good, but repetitive. The ghost of Martin the Warrior was always menacing the villains in their dreams and materializing to help the heroes out of a tight spot. The Dragonlance books featured some reasonably well-developed characters and strong world-building. I’m just not sure if I’d want to revisit them now. And Terry Brooks basically just ripped off LoTR, then, once he’d done that, he started ripping himself off. A lot. That will give you a taste of what I was into in those days.) The Xanth series, from what I’ve heard, is absolutely godawful—poorly written, juvenile, and incredibly misogynistic. So why did I decide to start reading it even though its time as cheap escapism for preteens in the mid-80s is long gone? I have no idea. I read the first two chapters of A Spell for Chameleon, and let me tell you, they sucked pretty hard. So naturally, I’m going to keep reading. Honestly, I don’t know why I’m doing this. It’s not like I don’t have a lot of good shit to get into.

I don’t know why a lot of the shit that I liked as a kid appealed to me. I’m sure I’m not the only kid who read the first Harry Potter book when they were about the same age as Harry and kinda sorta wished Hagrid would burst through the door and hand them an acceptance letter to Hogwarts or went around opening closets in hopes of finding the gateway to Narnia. When you read that shit, you get into a “grass is greener” mentality, and part of the reason I like LoTR so much is that it digs into the gritty reality of life in Middle Earth. Yeah, the Shire seems rather pleasant, but that grueling slog to Mount Doom hardly makes the whole thing seem like a paradise. Readers shouldn’t want to crawl through the page and experience life in the world of the novel; they should see the ways that life on the other side mirrors their own, and hopefully use that to reimagine their own situation. At least, that’s the idea.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make lunch.


The Fall

I am contractually obligated to say something about Tom Daley’s coming out. I have spent the past year or so drooling over him on this blog and I definitely don’t have his calendar on my wall, so let’s get this out of the way. First of all, he’s not gay, but bisexual. He said he still fancies girls. That means he still fancies girls. It doesn’t mean that in another year or two, he’ll be coming out as gay à la Elton John or half of the other gay men out there. Nowhere in the video does he even use the words “gay” or “bisexual”, so take him at face value when he says that he is dating a man, not that he could only ever be with a man. I know at least one bisexual man who came out as a teenager. Years later, he still identifies that way. Funny, that.

I’m resisting the urge to post another pic of him in a Speedo. I have spent so much time leering at him these past couple years that I feel my penis needs a break. So I’ll talk about myself. I like to think that I am pretty good at reading people. I’m not sure about my gaydar, but over the years, there has been God knows how much speculation about Daley and his sexuality. I never thought he was gay, but I’m not sure if I thought he was straight, either. Bisexual people need visibility, you know. Sexuality is a spectrum, not a dichotomy. Even the brilliant gay Renaissance Man Stephen Fry is, apparently, attracted to women sometimes. Yes, labels are useful, and at a certain point, it’s a relief to be able to just say “I am X, not Y”, but we still need to respect people’s right to self-identify. Fuck it, here’s another Speedo pic.

tom daley37Professional sports remains a not-terribly-LGBT-friendly place. Oh, there are folks like Matthew Mitcham, Orlando Cruz, and Jason Collins. But can you really expect that much progressiveness from a field that still has so much blatantly racist “locker room talk”? If this is the way some athletes talk about people of color, I shudder to think of what they say about the gays.

I have a bit of a weak spot for shitty fantasy. Over the summer, I watched The Covenant, a godawful braindead movie about prep school boys who are secretly witches from the director of Die Hard 2. One little thing that drove me nuts about the movie was the old trope of movie characters referring to other movies by the people who are in them rather than the title, as in, “Let’s go see the new Brad Pitt movie.” I like Brad Pitt, but I have never uttered those words. Once, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to see the new Matt Damon movie, but I think that was because he couldn’t remember the title (Elysium) and figured that since we both like science fiction, we should see it. One of the many things I liked about Knocked Up was that the characters said they were going to see Spider-Man 3 rather than “the new Tobey Maguire movie”. Because nobody talks like that.

But anyways. I find that crappy fantasy works a bit better as escapism than, say a shitty sitcom. Those are just painful, but Eragon, despite being a blatant ripoff of Earthsea, LOTR, and Star Wars, was still kind of a fun book in a “turn your brain off” sort of way. It’s just the movie that sucked. Really, I don’t know of a better way to blow off steam during the holidays than by kicking back and watching something, anything featuring robots and dragons and shit. Right, now I’m catching up on Doctor Who, and while I’m on record as saying that these past few seasons have not been up to snuff, it’s still pretty good comfort food. I’ve always been a bit of an Anglophile, and Who is the sort of thing you can totally lose your life in if you’re not careful. The Covenant is not British, but it has lots of gratuitous male nudity, which makes up for that.

I see movies on my own a lot. That’s partially because I don’t have any friends, and partially because everyone is so busy that it’s not always easy to get people to join me for a movie when I always pick the movie. Thor was lots of fun and better than the first. The relationship between Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings totally made the movie. (How many Hollywood blockbusters pass the Bechdel test?) Some people find Dennings’ character annoying, but I think she steals the show. I just wish Christopher Eccleston had gotten the chance to do a bit more than glower and look evil. He’s a terrific actor, so I suppose he did a fine job with what he was given, but it is odd that they would hire somebody so quirky and offbeat just to slather makeup on him and make him growl a lot. I keep hoping he’ll return to Doctor Who for any reason, maybe even just for a cameo? I should download a few more of the Big Finish Audio Adventures. Now that I have a job again, it’s nice just to have some spending money.

"Everybody dies, Thor. Just this once, everybody dies!"

“Everybody dies, Thor. Just this once, everybody dies!”

It’s getting harder and harder to feel like you’re not just one of the pack. These days, all anybody talks about is how hard it is to be a Millenial. (That, or how lazy we all are. But those people can go fuck themselves.) Seen from the outside, my life probably looks just like a million others, but I don’t see it that way, and not just because I’m still hellbent on world domination. No one likes being a statistic. Truth be told, I probably spend more time trying to blend in than stand out. I’m just not very good at it, that’s all. Whenever I do something just so people will leave me alone, it almost always backfires. People who want attention can have it. People who want privacy can have that, too. But nobody wants all of one and none of the other. We’re just not built that way.

So don’t worry about Tom Daley. He’s always been a shameless exhibitionist.

Things I Hate Doing, Part 4

5. Waiting

As anyone who has dug into A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones can tell you, that series is addictive. Rather than fill his fantasy world with orcs, wizards, and elves, George R.R. Martin has produced a series in which the fantasy elements are so subdued that in places, I felt like I was reading historical fiction that was set in an alternate universe. And like so many fantasy authors, Martin has fallen so in love with his complex, fully-realized world that the series has practically metastasized into an unwieldy beast that keeps expanding and slowing down the closer it gets to the finish line. He originally planned to write a trilogy, but expanded the number of volumes to seven, a number that he has pledged to be firm about, “until I decide not to be.” I don’t think we’re going to have a repeat of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, the fourteenth and final volume of which was published last week, and which took so long to write that Jordan had to hand the series off to another writer to complete after his death. At the very least, Martin already knows what the next two books will be titled, and is confident that he will finish the sixth before the TV show catches up with him. But I’m getting antsy. Three books would likely not have been enough to contain something this sprawling, but at a certain point, being faithful to one’s vision just becomes foot-dragging. You have my attention, George. Don’t fucking test my patience.

4. Online Shopping

I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy some stuff for my new apartment, and discovered to my dissatisfaction that the store does not carry desk lamps. That seems like a fairly basic need, doesn’t it? They had electric candles, flashlights, reading lights, and about 400 other things that were almost but not quite what I’m looking for. So I ordered the lamp (and one or two other items) off of Amazon, which isn’t the end of the world, but no desk lamps? Really? The nearest IKEA is in Brooklyn, so if I want to buy a bookshelf from them, I’ll probably have to get it delivered, as I have no car and don’t want to try taking something like that on the subway. Again, not the end of the world, just annoying. When I was back in California for the break, I had to go way out of my way to get my hands on a certain volume by the great Neil Gaiman that neither the New York Public Library nor my school library had. How odd. I look forward to the return of independent video stores. (Don’t laugh at me. I’m telling you, they’re due for a comeback.) Netflix isn’t quite the godsend we thought it was, and there is no substitute for good customer service.

Rumor has it that zombies love IKEA. It makes sense, doesn't it?

Rumor has it that zombies love IKEA. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Also, I think George R.R. Martin is one of the great authors of our time, fantasy or otherwise. If you’re curious about his earlier work, pick up Fevre Dream, a lovely novel about vampires and riverboats in 19th-century America.

3. Being a Fanboy

This is going to make me sound like a crank, but I’m so tired of hearing all the nerds I know complain about how the latest comic book/fantasy novel adaptation doesn’t quite capture what they imagined when they read the book. Yeah, that’s why it’s a movie, numbnuts. Yes, I had issues with the way Thorin Oakenshield was portrayed. He’s not Aragorn, Mr. Jackson, and The Hobbit requires something of a lighter touch. Far too many geeks just want to see every word of their beloved property transcribed as literally as possible, which is part of the reason that Jackson and Co. have decided to make The Hobbit into a completely unnecessary trilogy. I don’t buy into the notion that if you like something, you should want more and more (and more and more) of it. I prefer moderation. In my opinion, The Hobbit would have been a much better film had Guillermo del Toro stuck around to direct. He would have made it concise, and not loaded it up with so many convoluted action sequences in which the CGI characters survive falls that would kill real peole. Part of what I liked about the LOTR films was that, by action movie standards, they were relatively realistic. Sure, there were one too many instances of Legolas performing superhuman feats and one too many jokes about Gimli’s height, but both characters still got to be a little bit funny and a little bit badass, so when Legolas suggested that Gimli think about dying alongside a friend rather than an elf, I was moved. I spent too much of The Hobbit wondering how anyone could still be standing after doing something like that. The scale of the production dwarfs (get it?) the storytelling, and that’s never a good thing.

2. Self-Motivating

It’s hard to make yourself do things while on break, and while I’m getting better at it, I still kinda feel like I’m dragging myself through molasses. Does anyone wanna hang out? I’m only asking because I wish people would make me do things. Really, I’m quite driven, so I’ll seize upon the opportunity to talk about something else that has been bugging me: pornography. Is it just me, or is it getting harder and harder to find quality amateur stuff out there? I actually have paid for porn once or twice, and whaddaya know, that stuff is better than just anything else I can find on the free sites. I’ll stop talking about this now, as I suspect most of you did not wake up this morning wondering about Robot King’s masturbatory habits.

1. Pretty Much Anything Else I Forgot to Mention

I’ll pull a Ninth Amendment on this one, and say that you should not assume that something doesn’t bug me just because I didn’t mention it here. I’m tired of a great many things right now. I’m tired of hearing douchebag gun nuts whine about how insecure they are about their penises, in some cases going so far as to compare themselves to Rosa Parks. (I wish I were making that up.) I’m tired of people talking about the Oscars, as most serious movie buffs stopped giving a shit about those ages ago, and as far as I’m concerned, the lack of a screenplay, director, or picture nomination for The Avengers proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Academy voters are old white men who don’t like to step outside of their comfort zone. I predict Lincoln takes home the lion’s share of the awards, with a third Best Actor win for Day-Lewis and a Best Supporting Actress win for Anne Hathaway. But I really don’t care. I have shit to do, like find a job. And stuff.

This is a real ad. That's all I'm saying.

This is a real ad. That’s all I’m saying.

By the way, anyone with fifteen minutes to burn should read this interview with John Rhys-Davies. He’s funny, warm, and completely loveable, giving a very insightful reason for declining to appear in the fourth Indiana Jones film. That man never fails to bring out the fanboy love in me.

Murderous Rampage IX: The Titsplosion

Regular readers of this blog may recall an incident several months ago in which I joked about going on a killing spree, and was promptly brought to Columbia’s Mental Health Department for a psychiatric examination. I thought of this while reading about the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Real killers, you see, don’t generally broadcast their intentions in a public forum. Even if I had been planning some sort of mass murder, I doubt I would have said that I was going to “kill everyone”. What does that mean? Literally, everyone? How does one accomplish that–by shooting a missile into the center of the Earth and blowing up the whole planet? I realize that the header and my personal statement say I’m planning world domination, but if you honestly think that I am capable of that, you have a lot to learn. The point is that genuine mental illness and murderous rage are often harder to spot than that. Most serial killers (not the same as a mass murderer, but bear with me) are very good at blending in. Sometimes, you hear, “He was so quiet, and kept mostly to himself” but just as often you hear, “He was a nice guy! We went paintballing together!” (It’s usually a he, isn’t it? There should be more discussion about that.) The point is that the dude who sits in the corner and mutters to himself is rarely a physical threat. Psychos are good at blending in.

I expect to hear more talk about gun control in the ensuing weeks and months. I also expect to hear plenty of talk about mental illness, and what can be done to get treatment for people who might be planning to hurt themselves or others. Nothing can be accomplished if we shy away from a topic because it’s “too sensitive” or “Now is not the time to be having this discussion.” Fuck you. I’ll talk about what I want to talk about. The best way to show respect for the victims is to work to make sure that more schoolchildren don’t get shot up tomorrow, and with the spate of shootings in the last year alone, I wouldn’t bet against that, not even after all of the fucked up shit that we’ve dealt with already. Sometimes, God/the cold, indifferent universe/the Flying Spaghetti Monster just piles on the horseshit, and all we get to do is deal with it. The moment of silence is over. Let’s politicize the fuck out of this tragedy. It was political to begin with.

As I understand it, the NRA believes having Bruce Campbell present would have prevented the disaster in Connecticut.

As I understand it, the NRA believes having Bruce Campbell present would have prevented the disaster in Connecticut.

A couple years ago, I was having a very bad day. Such a bad day, in fact, that as I walked down the street, a cop car pulled over just so the officers could ask if I was alright. I was living in a suburb in California at the time, which is important, as I can’t imagine the NYPD doing that. One of them asked me point blank if I was thinking of doing something harmful. I stared at him and said, “No.” Why am I telling you this? Because I’m not a danger to anyone. I say fucked up shit, that’s all. I’ve never even held a gun, much less fired one. I’m so sick of hearing, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” as if guns aren’t designed with the express purpose of being killing machines. If more guns make everyone safer, why not just give every nation on Earth nuclear weapons. If we all have them, we’ll be too scared to use them, right? Mike Huckabee is a piece of shit.

This is going to sound off-topic, but last night, I caught up with my nerdy friends who saw it on opening night and took in a screening of The Hobbit at my local multiplex. It was okay–entertaining but clearly padded, generally well-acted, and a familiar return to the beloved ritual of seeing Middle Earth-related movies at Christmas even though it could have been two hours shorter–but what’s most important is that I saw it in 2D and at the standard rate of 24 frames per second (fps). For those who are not aware, Peter Jackson shot the film at 48 fps to make the image crisper and clearer (“like a window”, proselytizers claim). I don’t give a shit about that. I’m tired of these asinine technological innovations that purport to make film something greater than what it is intended to be. Your eyes blur images as they rush by you. So does 24 fps. That’s the way it should be. The brain can’t process more. The people who claim that this is the wave of the future and that naysayers like me (especially considering that I didn’t even bother to experience 48 fps before trashing it) are scared of progress should remember another old mantra: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

What does this have to do with gun violence? I guess what I’m trying to say is that our mental healthcare system and gun ownership laws are deeply broken, and in need of some serious fixing. The media is also partly to blame, but I could say that about every tragedy that has ever happened anywhere ever, so I’m not going to harp too hard on it this time. If you worry that we’re coming for your guns, rest assured that we very well might be, if your guns are in danger of being used for the wrong their intended purpose. No, I’m not anti-Second Amendment, but it cracks me up (by which I mean “infuriates me”) that the Supreme Court is constantly hearing cases about the limitations on free speech yet has almost no time for the amendment about, you know, weaponry.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that the only movie I ever enjoyed in 3D was Avatar, and that was basically a feature-length theme part ride. If that’s what floats your boat, go for it. But leave me out.