“I can picture you watching that movie while eating a deer leg or something.”

So, I had about a 1000 word post about a woman who road-raged at me (flipping me off, flashing her lights, waving her phone?) for fourteen miles driven in heavy traffic (around thirty minutes) because I didn’t let her over when she tried to do that thing where you barrel down a lane that is about to end in order to cut in front of as many people as possible, but the damn computer eated it.

That means I had to make a new post because I damn well wasn’t going to rewrite the old one (writing about rage, funnily enough, can make you a bit angry). You guys may not know this, but I am essentially a barbarian. I enjoy eating large chunks of meat with my hands, and I like hitting things. Boom. Barbarian. The post title was spoken by the Wuggles (with whom I have been reunited after decades of pining/a couple of weeks) when I asked him if I would like 300. In order to thoroughly embrace my barbaric nature, I recently made another new character on Skyrim. This character is an Orc. A badass Orc. It’s a she-Orc because I always play female characters, and she has a motherfucking warhammer. A warhammer is the heaviest two-handed weapon. I’ve tried playing magic characters, but I just can’t. The whole point of medieval fantasy video games is for me to hit things or slice them up with swords. Wizards can only set things on fire. That’s not nearly as cool. So I’m playing Skyrim with my flawless Orc lady, and I get a kill cut scene. Sometimes, when you get an extra good, critical hit, they’ll show you an animated shot of your character killing the other one. Each weapon has a few different animations. Axes, for example, can be buried in someone and yanked out, bashed straight down on someone’s head, or used to decapitate a person (the head will roll down mountains, too). So, I had just started using this warhammer, and I expected the usual bashy/pully death scenes. And then, my character grabbed the warhammer with the left and right hands far apart, held it straight out in front of her, parallel to the ground, lifted it up over the enemy’s head, trapping them in-between the hammer and my Orc, and then headbutted the enemy to death.

That’s right, my Orc has the strongest, heaviest weapon in the game, and one of her cut scenes shows her choosing to kill the enemy with her skull instead. I don’t know if this scene is for warhammers or for Orcs, but it is so damn cool. It makes me want to go out, kill a deer, roast it, and then eat it with my bear hands while watching 300. It makes me want to go to a tavern and bash someone over the head with a pint of ale (we will ignore the fact that my tolerance has leveled out at one beer = tipsy). It makes me want to fight glorious battles where my enemies run at the sound of my barbaric cry. I shall bring them to the ground with mighty blows! I shall slice the tendons of their horses to bring man and beast crashing to the earth! I shall swing my warhammer hard enough to break armor! I shall take the enemies’ shields and crash them over their owners’ heads! I SHALL FIGHT IN FIERCE COMBAT AND BRING THE ENEMY TO HIS KNEES WITH MY RAW, VIOLENT FORCE!

HAVE AT THEE BRO

… I shall probably order drumsticks tonight, so that I may rend the tender flesh from a slain beast.

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Let’s talk about papers

My, my, haven’t we been blogging quite a lot lately. Of course, you know that means that I have some sort of paper due. Right now, I am staring quite uselessly at Washington Square by Henry James. I have a paper due on it by 5:00, but I really want to finish much earlier than that. Firstly, I have a class at 1:25, and if I finish my paper before 12:00 or so, it means that I won’t have to lug my very heavy very warm computer to campus in order to finish my paper after my class. Yes, I am aware that there are these thing called jump drives, and I could bring my paper on that and use a computer in the library, but I hate the library computers. I only use them because I have to print, and even then they can take upwards of ten minutes to boot up. Heaven forbid you want to use the Internet because that’s another five to ten minutes to get a browser to launch. Also, I can only get Internet Explorer to open. I think Firefox is too modern for the ancient Gateways. Secondly, I have another paper due at 5:00 tomorrow, and that one is a fifteen page research paper. I got so desperate to avoid the paper on James that I actually started doing my research for the second paper (on Samuel Johnson’s annotated Shakespeare). I was pleased to find a whole lot of articles on the subject. I was also pleased to find large books that have one relevant chapter. I’m actually not too worried about that one now. Still, there is still the matter of writing the full fifteen pages which always seems to take far more hours than I want it to, and I have to factor in work on Tuesday morning from 6:00am to 10:30am. Protip: If you’re counting hours before a paper is due and subtracting time you’ll be at work in order to see if you can finish the paper, your level of procrastination is too damn high.

Lazy College Senior

How many memes do we think I can cram into one sentence? Anyway, my point is that I have a ton of shit to do, but I cannot think of what to write on for Washington Square. You know what my problem is? It’s too easy! Henry James is supposed to give you a headache, but this book is so simple. I mean, it was a fun read, and I sped through it (Fun fact: Apparently James hated it), but it means that I’m at a loss on what to write. Right now, my plan is to simply discuss the final chapter and what it means for Catherine in terms of the rest of the novel (Honestly, I shouldn’t bitch. Neither of these essays really even need a thesis. I just have to analyze the hell out of stuff, which, let’s be real, is what I do best. What is killing me is that I want to trade paper topics with Cuddles, who is currently sleeping off the effects of two Ampeds and trying to keep calm and graduate).

SO! Just for you, I’ve decided to talk about Washington Square. There will be spoilers, if any of you care. I know that the novel is over a hundred years old, but I still don’t like being spoiled for shit. (Fun fact: The beginning of “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot spoils a little bit of Heart of Darkness proving that even famous poets can be Internet trolls.)

Washington Square is the tale of Catherine Sloper, a painfully dull and stupid girl who is actually not that painfully stupid, and what, precisely, is wrong with being a little dull? Her father, Austin Sloper, is kind of a dick, and by that I mean that he is a huge dick who is constantly disappointed that A) His daughter is female and not a son and B) That his daughter is so plain and average and stupid (“as intelligent as a bundle of shawls”). Catherine’s aunt and Dr. Sloper’s (he’s a well-respected man about town, doing the best things so conservatively and also a very intelligent, well-loved physician) silly sister is named Lavinia Penniman. She’s a giddy, romantic widow who kind of fucks shit up. She lives with Catherine and Dr. Sloper. Mrs. Elizabeth Almond is Sloper’s other sister. She seems to be the only character who is as sharp as Dr. Sloper without having the same level of douchebag. I severely wanted to know more about her. Morris Townsend is another asshole, but he’s the asshole that Catherine loves (other than her father, who she is pretty terrified of). Morris loves Catherine…’s money. And that’s the plot. Catherine is plain and in her early twenties. Morris wants to marry her, and she wants to marry him. Dr. Sloper knows that he’s a mooch, but instead of being a decent human being, he’s a huge dick and makes the whole thing really hard on his daughter. Mrs. Penniman gets all up in the “romance,” and generally causes problems and annoys Morris, who is pretty clearly after Catherine’s money. See, Catherine’s dead mother left her ten thousand dollars a year (in 1840 or so, so a damn lot) once she married, and Dr. Sloper was going to supplement that with an additional forty thousand dollars (I don’t think annually, but still, damn that’s a lot of money). However, if she marries Morris, he won’t give that to her. She doesn’t care about the money, but she is afraid of her father and desperately seeks his approval, so she wants him to like her husband. Morris doesn’t want Catherine without the money. Mrs. Penniman thinks Morris is a romantic and defends him for way too long, even after he essentially states that he won’t marry Catherine because he’s worth more than ten grand a year (he isn’t). The story centers on Catherine’s development from a shy, scared girl who craves her father’s blessing into a shy, strong girl who accepts that both her father and her only love screwed her over. Essentially, she has to realize that her father is hideously disappointed in her and that he will never like her. Then, she has to realize that Morris doesn’t want her either.

By her middle age, she does. She defies her father, and, when Morris comes for a final visit, she shuts him down. He continues to suck, Dr. Sloper continues to suck, Mrs. Penniman continues to pave the road to hell with her good intentions, and Catherine “picking up her morsel of fancy-work, had seated herself with it again—for life, as it were.” The last chapter is pretty interesting because she finally gets to confront Morris, so I think that I’m going to go with that as my topic. I’m a little concerned that the heavy dialogue will make my block quotes (this teacher requires lots of block quotes) a hot mess. I had an idea to compare Morris to a character in another book we read, but I can’t find the passage where they are essentially described in the same way, and I also don’t ever want to read anything by Hawthorne again.

I just don’t know what my “point” will be. I know that it’s an exploration, but even a silly exploration of a single chapter has to have some significance, otherwise why bother writing a paper on it? I mean, it’s very theatrical. The whole book is theatrical. There are some references to “liberty,” and the book seems to have an undercurrent of the political to it. I kind of see Sloper as the ultimate politician. After all, he knows what’s best for you, and he’ll take your choice away as best he can. If he can’t, he’ll cut off your funding in some way, but despite all his wrongs, the public loves him. Morris proves himself to be a right jackass, and Catherine simply sits down to the quiet life of sewing things alone in the parlor. I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW TO RESPOND TO THIS TEXT, MAN!

Sparkle

If that weren’t enough, if I double space this blog post, it’s four pages long. The essay is only six. What the hell is wrong with me?

NEXT TIME ON MY BLOG (probably) I have plans to talk about The Hunger Games movie, and I want to review the last two books. There may be more Shakespeare! (Spoiler alert: The Taming of the Shrew can die in every fire.) There may be Shakespeare AND Samuel Johnson (He wrote the dictionary mostly by himself in like, seven years, I think. He also beat people with folios and had a cat named Hodge.) I may even review a single episode of something! Who knows what wild and crazy adventures I’ll have next?!

PS: My apartment is making me pay them rent again. I do not like this.

PPS: But I went shopping for the first time in about a year and a half. I have no money, but I do have some business casual clothing AND some boss business inappropriate shirts. I do like this. So, you know, it evens out to me having no money.

It’s Review Time!

Since I spent my last post bitching about stuff, I figured that I’d make a new post… well, bitching about stuff. But this stuff is infinitely less irritating than the last stuff, and I don’t actively want to shoot it. This post has been marinating forever, and when I finally sat down and wrote it, I lost about half the content due to the stupidity of school computers. Apparently, pressing the “Save” button does not actually save your work.

Anyway, have some (spoiler free, aww yeah) TV show reviews!

Show #1 – Girls (HBO)

Girls has been circulating around getting all sorts of press because Judd Aptow is working on it, and the creator of the show is an indie darling who recently made an indie film that got a lot of praise. It’s about a bunch of post-grads trying to make their way in the world what with the crappy economy and all.

So, this show is about, surprise, some girls. Now, my big gripe with this show is the way that it was marketed towards, well, me. I am an English/History major with a whole lot of student loans. I’m about to graduate in this job market where, I’ve been assured, no one will care about my degree. In that trailer, the main character (I’m going to call her “Main Girl”) says that she’s “the voice of her generation or a generation.” Now, the creator states that that line was not supposed to be taken seriously (and the character was high on opium when she said it). That said, this show is trying to be the voice of my generation. The show is titled Girls. As in, look at these average girls! Our Main Girl is a little chubby and she has bad tattoos! They have loser boyfriends! And money problems! They talk to each other while on the toilet! You can relate to these girls!

The main character is twenty-four. She graduated two years ago. Her parents have been sending her almost two thousand dollars a month since then. They also apparently gave her money while she was in college and paid for her schooling. Yeah. This girl is really someone that I can relate to. Now, in her defense, she has been working an unpaid internship, so she isn’t a total bum. Worse, as much as I would like to hate her and love her parents for cutting her privileged ass to the curb, I hate her parents too. They show up out of the blue and cut her off just like that. They don’t give her time to find a job. They don’t give her any notice. Just, bam, no more money. And I can’t sympathize with that either. If she were a total slacker just living off their money, then yes, I could maybe see a sharp cut off like that, but she’s been working an internship. That means that she can probably find some job somewhere, but those things do not pop up overnight, and her parents have made her search about three times as hard because she has to worry about running out of money while she looks for work. Ugh.

And she has friends! I’ve seen two episodes, and I can’t really remember anyone’s name. There’s Sensible Girl who has a job and a boyfriend who is so sickeningly nice that he disgusts her. British Girl sleeps with everyone’s boyfriends, but, gasp, is also has more depth than you’d expect. Preppy Valley Girl is British Girl’s cousin, and, as far as I can tell, she doesn’t have more depth than you’d expect. I guess that there is nothing really awful about this show. I mean, shows with flat, unlikable characters pop up all the time. There are a few funny moments that, in my opinion, are outweighed by the painfully awkward moments. I don’t know. Maybe give this show a watch if you have HBO. My roommate likes it.

My Rating: Angry Meh

Show #2 – The Borgias (Showtime)

Hell. Yes. This show combines most of my favorite things: sex, violence, history, church corruption, and older British men. I must admit that I had no idea who the Borgias were before the show came out. AP history just focused on the Medicis, man. That means that I can’t really complain about any historical inaccuracies, so you’re spared from that.

Those of you who are familiar with other “historical” shows like Rome or The Tudors know that “historical” means “lots of tits and nudity and sex.” And yes, The Borgias has some sex and nudity, but I would definitely say that there is a whole lot more violence. Lots of violence. It’s pretty graphic, ugly violence too. For this review, I think that I’m going to do a bit of a pros and cons sort of thing.

The Good
They obviously have a good budget for costumes and settings. Everything is really pretty. The acting is pretty great, though your mileage may vary on that point. I’m not sure why, exactly, but they let Jeremy Irons ham it the hell up, particularly at the end of the first season and the beginning of the second. I mean, damn. I find it pretty hysterical a lot of the time, and he pulls back in the more dramatic scenes, so it’s not like he’s ruining any good moments. Once you get into it, I thought the show was really engaging, and I couldn’t put it down.

The Bad
That said, it did take me a while to get into it. The first episode isn’t that compelling, and it’s two hours long. I would recommend watching the first two or three episodes if you can. I watched the first and then didn’t pick it back up until after the second season had started. Also, while the Pope does occasionally bring the lolz, I don’t find his plot threads to be that interesting. I really like Cesare, Lucrezia, and the mistresses so I often find myself waiting patiently for them to show up. That said, the less interesting plot points don’t bore me terribly. They’re just less engaging. On a more personal gripe, they keep killing characters that I like while leaving the ones that I want garroted (It’s a cheese cutter, sir, and Cesare’s assassin’s weapon of choice) alive. On a very personal gripe, if you watched the trailer, you might have heard the name “Giulia Farnese” spoken. Megan says that I might just be more sensitive to it, but I really, truly think that they say her name more than any other character’s. It’s goddamn everywhere. And they say her full name, too: Giu-li-a Far-na-say. It drives me up the freaking wall. However, I’m going to assume that most of my readers are not, in fact, named Julia (or Giulia), so that shouldn’t bother other people.

My Rating: Pretty sweet. You should watch it.

So yeah! I would not really recommend Girls, but I wouldn’t not recommend it either because you might like it. I would recommend The Borgias unless you hate violence, sex, and history in which case I would not recommend it because you might not like it.

…Wow, I think I might be too understanding of different tastes to review things. That’s… that’s a first.

Dear University Apartments…

WARNING. I AM SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW. THIS IS AN INAPPROPRIATE POST.

Hades

Dear University Apartments,

Firstly, you really need to change your name to University Dorms Off Campus, because, lets be real, you aren’t actually an apartment complex. You’re a sad, worthless excuse for a dorm that happens to be off campus with a (tiny) kitchen and a (tiny) laundry room. For the unacquainted, “The U” (well aren’t we just clever and modern) does not, in fact, allow you to do adult things like pay your own utilities, choose whether or not you want cable, or choose your internet provider. You pay a monthly flat fee with utilities included unless you have an overage (which, during the summer, you will). It’s idiot-proof, my-first-housing. Now, those of you who know me know that I really hate all the hand-holding that tends to go on in and around colleges. When I lived on campus, I lived in a dorm that had lots of upperclassmen, so it was very hands off; however, after meeting new people, I realized that freshman dorms are not, in fact, housing for anyone who is competent. Apparently, large, freshmen dorms have check-ins where you have to show ID. Guests must be claimed. RAs are actually involved in your daily life and do more than just plan tiny parties and clean up broken mirrors. When I was in high school, my parents started traveling farther and farther away for art shows, and, as I aged, I did not have to go with them to these shows. I have also had a job and a car since I was sixteen, which means that before college, I had a decent chunk of experience doing things like buying my own food, cooking, doing laundry, vacuuming, buying my own clothes, and, you know, just general living without anyone else butting in. This leads me to my second point.

University Apartments, please fuck off, die, and decompose into a maggoty soup. SOME of your residents did not, as a matter of fact, choose to live here because of your SUPER COOL AMENITIES. I know that you have A POOL, A GYM, and FREE COFFEE AND (awful) BREAKFAST IN THE MORNINGS! I know that you have ACTIVITIES! You know, for people who really miss the feeling of a school dance. You project POOR QUALITY MOVIES sometimes! For the people who really want to watch a grainy image projected onto an inflatable screen. And you know what, my dearest apartment complex, I deal with that. I deal with hearing crappy movies in my room. I deal with the noises from the pool. I live right by it, so whenever you have an activity or the bastards who also live here decide to bring out a boom box, I get to hear it. And I have always been relatively OK with this.

Until now. See, it’s finals next week. I have gallons of work to do (not that I will be doing it). I just got back from work, and I come into the complex and hear a ghastly sound: Bad club music. And I hear this sound far sooner and louder than I should. I come into my apartment, and I can hear it in the living room, which is usually the more quiet room. I go back in to the lair of the Cuddly One, and he has closed my door (fun fact: at normal noise levels, you can hear the sound more loudly from my room than you can from his window) to prevent more noise leakage. I come into his room to see him engulfed in his headphones. I’m already not pleased, and I decide to go down to the office and say something to management. This is their party after all. I’m sure they don’t realize that it’s louder than normal.

Once in the office, I am directed to the manager (AKA the only person who works here older than 22. There is nothing more disconcerting than signing a lease and giving it to some punkass college kid. Seriously, he could have sold it for beer money). I explain that the music is a lot louder than normal, and ask if they can turn it down a bit, as it has permeated the entire apartment. I also lied and said that it was vibrating the windows because this place is a hell-hole and, I figured that they wouldn’t do anything for just too loud.

“I’m sorry, but it’s our end of the year party. We’ve been advertising for a while, so you should have been able to arrange to be somewhere else.”

“Yes, but it’s also the weekend before finals. I’m not partying. Also, your other parties and activities aren’t this loud. Like, I can’t hear the movies you play in my living room. This is louder”

“Listen, I will personally pay your cab fare to go wherever you want. We can send you to Jittery Joe’s or whatever, but we aren’t turning down the music. You can go wherever you want though.”

“Well, what I want is to be able to study in the apartment that I pay for.”

“The party is only until six-thirty. I’ll pay for you to go somewhere.”

I don’t actually remember what I said before I turned around and left the office. It might have been “well” or “no” or just “ugh,” but I do remember muttering “fuck off cunt” before I slammed the office door. The problem is that, when I get angry, I have trouble remembering exactly how loud I am. I mean, I was livid. I love how turning down their music would just, like, RUIN their end of the year party (SURPRISE MOTHERFUCKERS! THE YEAR ISN’T OVER. WE STILL HAVE FINALS AND CLASS ON MONDAY.) I wasn’t saying, “Umm, can you turn off the music.” I was saying that it was significantly louder than normal, which it is, and asked if they could turn it down just a bit. You know, so I couldn’t hear it loudly and clearly in every room in my apartment. Hell, right now, I’ve got that little vibration in my ears that you get from loud bass. I also love how I should have to VACATE MY RESIDENCE because the complex is throwing a small party at the pool.

Listen, I hate my apartment for many reasons. I pay way too goddamn much for it. The kitchen and laundry room are miniscule. Our oven is too small for a pizza pan. Our shower and toilet are disgusting. The carpet isn’t actually attached to the floor properly. I found this out when I was mopping the kitchen and the edge of the carpet came right up off the ground when I brushed against it. Our upstairs neighbors keep flooding their bathroom and leaks down into our walls and through our ceiling. The windows in my room don’t close properly. We have bugs. Always. Our couch is a piece of shit that fell apart (we will now have to pay for it). The internet that we have to have is balls. I would not have moved in here if I had another option because this place is tiny, dirty, nasty, and full of idiots who shouldn’t be allowed near outlets or sharp objects. The office is entirely run by idiot college kids. I hate this place. I have to live here until August. I want to get a gun and pick off partiers and DJs and employees, one by one from my window. I want to burn this place to the damn ground. I want the company that owns this place to go bankrupt. I want these apartments to be condemned as unfit for human habitation. I want the woman who offered to buy me a cab (Fuck you. I have a car. I just don’t want to have to LEAVE MY DAMN HOME BECAUSE YOU’RE HAVING A SAD PARTY) to lose her job and pick up a heroin addiction.

Plates

I JUST HATE EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW, OK. A LOT. AND I WANT TO BURN IT TO THE GROUND.

On the GROUND

OR THROW IT ON THE GROUND. BOTH. EITHER. WHATEVER.

So, if you are one of the 20-30 (no, I am not joking) people down at the mother fucking pool at University Apartments, just know that I hate you and everything you do. Especially if you are the fucking DJ.

EDITED NOTE: Now that I am less angry, I figured that I would clarify that I don’t actually want to shoot anybody or burn anything down, nor do I really want the manager of this party to come down with a drug addiction. I really hate my damn apartment, and I needed to rant. What are blogs for? Anyway, I have something of a personal policy about deleting comments/posts on the Internet, so I intend to leave this rant up. I just wanted to clarify that I was speaking with figurative rage so that the police don’t show up at my door. I love you all.

I want to walk on the ceiling so that I can get the upside down books

So, for those of you unfamiliar with the layout of my apartment, my boyfriend’s room has a little bookshelf near the very top of the ceiling above his desk (or the piece of plywood bolted to the wall that our apartment complex tries to claim is a desk). I have recently been feeling rather cheerful, which is a change from my usual feelings of rage and sadness. However, for me, feeling cheerful often means less “cheer” and more “dopamine induced stupor.” I’ve never actually experienced the effects of a mind altering substance (not counting caffeine and alcohol), but I wonder if my cheerful mood is comparable. First, I drank three cups of tea while watching Mad Men (oh how I love Mad Men) and rolling around on the couch. Then, I decided to roll around on a softer piece of furniture. While poor Cuddles attempted to play his video games, I was laying with my head upside down, dangling off the edge of the bed saying things like: “Woah. Your ceiling looks so cool upside down. It’s like the floor. Except, I know it’s the ceiling. But I still want to walk on it. You should look at it like this. It’s so floor-like. And your books look so cool. Like, they’re just hanging on that shelf. I want to walk on the ceiling so that I can get the upside down books. I love upside down books.”

I don’t really have that much to say that doesn’t involve me ranting heavily about my issues with an order I placed a month ago (who knows, I might regale you all with that story someday), but I felt the need to post something because I haven’t updated in a while.

Anyway, when I wasn’t completely drunk off my good mood, I also read my very first Playboy magazine! I would give a thorough review, but, well, it was really sad. I mean, none of the women were attractive. None. It was so sad. All that nudity and nothing, man. The articles weren’t very good either, and there were a billion of those crappy watercolor comics that you find in every magazine. You know, the ones that always end in a painfully bad joke. Except here the cartoons were diiirrrtty. Oooooh. Adding blurry nipples to your sad little watercolor comic doesn’t improve the quality of the jokes. So, if you were planning on purchasing a Playboy magazine, I would recommend just pirating that crap instead. Or you know, watch porn online.

Sleep continues to be for the weak, and I continue to be sick

So, I didn’t sleep last night. I take that back; I got roughly thirty to forty-five minutes of sleep. Then, I got up and rushed to an interview for the internship that I desperately want. Sadly, I think I may have done worse on the proofreading test than the last time I interviewed because I am so tired what are words? However, this sleepiness has led me to a quick blog post because I got out of the interview early and decided that I needed nothing more than a delicious Starbucks. I didn’t want just any Starbucks, mind you. I wanted heavily caffeinated Starbucks. For those of you unacquainted with my beverage consumption habits (none of you have any reason to be, but I’m certain I’ve inflicted this information on the poor souls who know me personally), I registered a Starbucks card a while ago, and I’m very close to gold membership. If you become a gold member, they send you a gold (not made of actual gold, obviously) member card. I originally registered in order to get free soy milk, because after five drinks, you get a bunch of perks, but now, I spend a ton of money on delicious coffee beverages.

Now, all of you coffee snobs can sit down. Firstly, I cannot tell the difference between good and bad coffee. My father once threatened to disown me because I brought home those instant coffee tea bag things. So I wouldn’t know how terrible Starbucks coffee is (although I hear that they burn it to make it seem richer). Secondly, who the hell goes to Starbucks for coffee? Make that at home, or go to a gas station. If I want coffee, I have a coffee maker. You know what I don’t have? A Frappuchino machine. I can’t afford to keep a store of Matcha Green Tea Powder in the house, and even if I could, our blender cost fourteen dollars. It can’t blend anything. I certainly don’t have an espresso machine. I go to Starbucks for heavily caloric, sugary deliciousness.

That said, many Starbuckses are, well, not good. The one in the Kroger off College Station, for example, is pretty terrible. However, as I went to the Starbucks downtown, right on Broad Street, I realized just how nice a place it is. For example, I usually order soy and no whipped cream on my drinks, but sometimes, I decide that I don’t mind whipped cream on my drink (I never really like Starbucks whipped cream because it mixes with the drink and tastes icky at the end), but now, my drinks never have whipped cream on them–even if I don’t specify it. I think the guy just knows me. The people that work at this particular Starbucks are all very cheerful, nice, and good at their jobs. My Frappuchinos are always mixed all the way without any ice chunks. I cannot stress how nice the staff is. I know that there is the whole “go local” movement happening right now, and Walker’s is right next to Starbucks, but I always feel lost in that place. The staff isn’t as friendly or helpful, and they don’t have a comprehensive menu. So I go to the franchise place. Obviously, all Starbuckses aren’t this nice, but the delicious Grande Coffee Frappuchino with a shot of espresso that I just inhaled and the toasted, multi-grain bagel I just nommed has inspired me to write a surprisingly long post about how people in Athens should go to the Starbucks on Broad Street. Because it’s pretty sweet.

I am, as always, ridiculously responsible

So, last Sunday, I decided that my time would be best spent employed in literary pursuits. As an English and history major, I have to read a lot for my classes which generally means that I avoid reading a lot for my classes, and then I spend all of my time on the Internet. I very rarely read books for fun, and when I do, they’re often books that I’ve already read. However, I had a paper due Monday, and I decided that instead of my normal stalling techniques, I would pick up a book (or in this case, an iPad). That’s right, my dearest readers: I read The Hunger Games.

Before I get started, I warn you that this is a spoiler review. Writing reviews without spoilers is really difficult, and, quite honestly, I want to talk about all aspects of the book. So, there are going to be spoilers all up in this post.

Deal With It Crab

First things first: Suzanne Collins’ writing style. Well, it’s not bad. I mean, not horrifically bad. In general, she’s better than Stephenie Meyer but not as good as J.K. Rowling. Honestly, when I judge children/young adult literature, usually choose to focus on whether or not the writing style distracts from the plot rather than judging the style itself. My biggest problem I have with her is the way in which she uses stylistic fragments. To emphasize a point. They’re everywhere. In chapters, very often ending paragraphs. Other than that, I really can’t complain too much. She does spend a lot of time just telling us what people are wearing, but it rarely has (at least to me) that fanfic-y quality of the camera panning down over a character’s outfit.

Related to the writing style, I really loved how believable Katniss was–particularly when it came to the love interests. Often, usually in young adult novels that feature romance, the main character will be average. She’ll be so average looking. Yeah, about a million other people think that she’s beautiful and fawn on her, but she just doesn’t see it. She’s always talking about how plain and limp her brown hair is and how average she feels next to her pretty friend. Katniss does not do any of this. She doesn’t really harp on her own looks at all. When Katniss doesn’t believe that Peeta loves her, it makes sense. She really doesn’t believe it. She doesn’t see herself as particularly attractive, and she particularly doesn’t see her personality as attractive. It totally makes sense. She doesn’t harp on her boyish, tiny frame because she has bigger things to worry about. When she does bring up her figure, it’s related to not being killed by the people bigger than her. She has no qualms about letting the reader know that she doesn’t shave anything, and she certainly doesn’t mind letting everyone know how unfriendly she is. I believe her disbelief because she hasn’t spent pages doting on her own average face and body and how no man will ever find her awkward, angry disposition attractive. When she talks about Peeta, she focuses on her sense of honor and how she “owes” him. Then, amazingly enough, the novel follows up with that sense of honor and desire not to be in a person’s debt reappearing–in more than one character no less. So, I must applaud Collins for making Katniss so accurate and believable.

And speaking of love interests, why the hell does anyone care about Gale and Peeta? Before I read the book, I knew there was a ton of Team vs Team going on, so I wasn’t prepared for how little romance there was. I mean, I know shippers are always gonna ship…

Pregnant X Men

(That’s totally canon, if you were wondering) …but there really isn’t a whole lot of love running about. Gale might like her, and probably does, but she doesn’t know. Peeta definitely likes her, but she doesn’t know. Most of all, she doesn’t want to get married or have a family, so she doesn’t even want to make a decision. She just wants her friendship with Gale to be normal and to survive, you know, that fight to the death she’s in while preserving her sense of honor and kindness. Incidentally, I liked how the fake romance angle left her sympathetic. In Twilight, I actively wanted to hurt Bella for the way that she insisted on being friends with Jacob, even when she knew that he was helplessly in love with her. Katniss still isn’t sure about Peeta, and she knows she needs to fake love in order to live. That’s pretty solid motivation right there. Personally, I finished the book really wanting her to end up with a third party or with no one. So, if you were avoiding these books because of romance, there really isn’t much.

Of course, that leads me to the point that this book isn’t about some teenage girl in a love triangle. It’s about the horrors of living in a dystopian (Firefox, why is your spelling suggestion for “distopian” pianist?) police state where the wealthy are so privileged (because they live off the backs of the majority poor) that they literally cannot understand the horror of making teenagers fight each other to the death. It’s about being trapped in a world where you have no power to control the laws that govern you, and you have almost no way to rebel against it. It’s a very interesting story.

Let’s see, other things: I really liked Foxface, the girl who gets the most anti-climactic death ever. I know that my strategy would have been to hide and let everybody else kill each other, so I was rooting for her just a bit. Oh, on a political note, I liked how, even in the wilderness where everyone was supposedly on equal footing, the wealthier people still had a distinct, unfair advantage. Rue’s death continues to be the saddest thing, especially when her district sends the bread. I have to wonder what the movie is going to look like (my plan was to see it Tuesday night, but I got death cold and stayed in the fetal position instead) as it’s rated PG 13. I mean, there is no way that they are going to show Cato getting eaten alive for hours or Glimmer’s body melting into hallucinatory green pus. I kind of wonder how they are going to make the Mutts in the movie too. I really hope that they cut out the whole “they’re the tributes” thing–especially because that was a really heavy handed metaphor.

So, I would actually recommend The Hunger Games. Well, I’d recommend them all, as I spent my death cold day reading the other two books, but I’m not going to talk about them just yet. I really loved the world building, and I loved Katniss. It’s nice to have a heroine that’s genuinely interesting. She doesn’t have to tell us to be compelled. She’s just compelling. If you’re looking for a romance, I don’t think this is the book for you. Oh, and don’t get attached to anyone, because everyone dies.

It’s a Shakespeare Post Part II

If you missed part one, you can find it here.

First thing’s first: for those of you who aren’t familiar with Titus Andronicus, it’s the story of a man whose devotion to his honor and his unbending sense of duty in the face of reason or mercy leads to his downfall. He appoints the emperor of Rome based on tradition—the first born son was considered the heir. However, the first born son is a complete tool, who causes Titus a ridiculous amount of grief, while the second son seems like a much better candidate and was betrothed to Titus’ daughter. He is so devoted to the emperor that he actually kills his own son in order to serve him. Then, his devotion to religious rituals is what gets the main plot rolling. He sacrifices the first born son of the captive queen. This leads her to pursue revenge against him, and then he must be revenged against her in turn, et cetera, et cetera. Titus starts with twenty-one dead sons, four live sons, and one daughter. He kills one son. Two others are wrongly executed for the murder of his new son-in-law, the emperor’s brother and his daughter Lavinia’s husband. The last son, Lucius, is banished, but he comes back and is appointed emperor at the end. Lavinia winds up, as mentioned in the last post, raped and mutilated. Titus cuts off his own hand. Lavinia’s rapists are Tamora’s (the vengeful queen of the Goths) two remaining sons, so Titus kills them and bakes them into pies. After feeding the pies to Tamora and the emperor, he kills Lavinia because people living in the sixteenth century were sexist (or because her honor was ruined, and it made him sad to look at her—same thing, really). Then he kills Tamora, at which point the emperor kills Titus, and Lucius kills the emperor.

TL;DR – Rocks fall, everyone is mutilated and eaten

So! Onto Julie Taymor’s Titus. Taymor doesn’t actually choose one time period for her film. Instead, she mixes and matches. There are guns, medieval flails, and crossbows. Roman warriors come back from battle on both chariots and motorcycles. FUN FACT TIME! One of the images we have of an original Shakespeare play and its staging is a drawing by Henry Peacham of Titus Andronicus, and, well, it’s an interesting picture:

Peacham

Yes, that is a Roman warrior next to a medieval princess. Just roll with it. My point is that Taymor is in good company when it comes to the use of non-period specific costumes and set pieces. In Titus, the different time periods mean more options for costumes, so that the costumes can display a wide range of meanings.

Costumes #1, #2, and #3

Armor and Clay Uniform

The very first time we see Titus, he is in his armor, but he is also covered in clay. According to Taymor, the clay is supposed to refer back to the terra cotta soldiers in China. The idea of Titus as an ancient general coming from a long history of war fits perfectly with the terra cotta image, yet it also makes him seem small, and toy-like. This goes very well with the idea of Titus as the perfect soldier who is so bound by his duty to the emperor that he would kill his own son. Costumes #2 and #3 are variations on the same theme. #2 has armor while #3 (pictured) has a uniform without armor. They too point to the idea of Titus being the perfect soldier. Incidentally, as of now, I have no problems with Taymor’s tone. She’s clearly making a serious movie with a message, and the tone of the first scenes reflects that.

Costumes #4 and #5

Open Uniform Sweater

Titus’ costumes do not really change until Titus himself is made to change by the forces around him. He has a radical shift after his sons are blamed for murder. Since he is beginning to break down emotionally, his military outfit is now disheveled, and he has lost his cape. Once he really breaks down, his outfits reflect that. The next we see him in a different costume is after he has lost his hand and his two sons. Now, he looks like somebody’s grandfather rather than a Roman general. This is also the point in the play/film where I began to forget about him killing both his and Tamora’s sons and started to feel sorry for him as a person.

Costumes #6, #7, and #8

Robe and Armor Robe

The later parts of the play deal with Titus’ descent into madness. We next see him trying to petition the Gods by shooting arrows at the sky. He does so wearing his armor with a bathrobe on top. The more insane he becomes, the more ridiculous his outfits get. His next costume isn’t really a costume, as he is naked in a bathtub. At this point, he is emotionally bare. He has focused all of his energy on revenge and has stripped off his soldier’s personality, his fatherly care, and his dignity. After leaving the tub, he comes down in a bathrobe. Taymor herself pointed out that she used color to reflect Titus’ journey, and the bathrobe he wears now is a lighter color than his previous outfits.
Costume #9

Chef

The last costume is probably the most important. For one, it’s all white, which means that he has finally stripped off all of his old, closed up ways and become more open. More obviously, this costume is ridiculous. He looks like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. His outfit represents just how revenge crazy he has gone in how ridiculous it is while still showing him to be fully open and accepting of the end through its color. He knows that this is his final revenge, and he meets it with a humorous, calculated insanity.

In my original paper, I went on to talk about how the costumes also mimicked the change in tone. I mentioned that the beginning of the film was incredibly serious. As it moves on, there are more comic moments. Some of these were clearly intentional. Others were clearly not. For example, this scene is supposed to be a very serious, and very sad remembrance of Lavinia’s rape:

Who let anyone edit this

Oh, rock music plays while this is happening. The overall effect is really comic. The same thing happens any time she goes into what she calls a “penny arcade nightmare” and what I call “someone got drunk and started playing with the effects on Windows Movie Maker scene.” The big ending where everyone dies is also, really funny. Lucius kills the emperor by shoving a serving spoon down his throat. The emperor kills Titus with a candelabra:

Candle

That’s 100% serious art right there. I always remove candles with my teeth before stabbing someone with my candelabra. Also, this is, once again, all set to loud rock music. In the original paper, I said that Taymor was undermining the violence with the campiness in order to keep the entertainment value of the source material while still preaching peace. However, I don’t know if I believe that. I really think that Taymor was approaching this movie with a fully serious mindset. Everything she said in the director commentary led me to believe so. As of now, I have to say that, I think the costumes certainly mimic the state of Titus himself, and they mimic the change in tone of the movie, but I don’t think that most of the humor was intentional.

It’s Shakespeare Time!

Regular readers! Sorry for the absence in posts lately; I’ve been soul-crushingly depressed. Anyway, what follows are a few posts for my Remediation Project for my Writing for the Web class where I talk about SHAKESPEARE. Oh, and violence. Have fun!

As many of my loyal readers (probably) know, I am a fan of William Shakespeare and his various works—largely because it makes me seem super classy. Out of all the Shakespeare I’ve read Titus Andronicus is probably my favorite play; however, it is also the sort of play that immediately drops my classy level to somewhere between bad slasher flicks and The Flavor of Love. Titus Andronicus is the story of a man who, after returning from a war where he lost twenty-one sons (seriously), wound up killing one of his own sons and watching two others get executed. He then finds out that his one daughter has been raped, her hands have been chopped off, and her tongue has been cut out. When he discovers the identity of her attackers, he does what any man would do—kill them, bake them into a pie and feed them to their mother before killing her. Oh, and at one point, he winds up cutting off his own hand. Almost everyone in the play dies, and it features what I believe to be one of the first “I did your mom last night” jokes:

Demetrius: Villain, what hast thou done?

Aaron: That which thou canst undo.

Chiron: Thou hast undone our mother.

Aaron: Villain, I have done thy mother.

No, I wasn’t kidding. It’s in Act IV, scene II. You know, plenty of other Shakespeare plays are full of jokes like this, but they’re considered very high brow and artistic. Naturally, my favorite play is the one with lots of murder, rape, and cannibalism. Some people think that Shakespeare didn’t even write this play (Those people are wrong). I think that what makes it so interesting is the way in which the play throws comedy in around the violence. Even Shakespeare can’t classy that sort of thing up. Well, I don’t think he can. Others, like director Julie Taymor, would probably not agree. Taymor is the director of Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins as the man himself, and, well, it’s an interesting movie.

Heads
Face Off
Hand

Yes, those are floating, flaming body parts. Just roll with it. To me, Titus is an interesting movie; I’m a big fan of the mismatched time periods, and, well, I think the movie is hilarious. Having watched the director commentary, I have to say, I don’t think that Taymor intended to make a comedy. See, I look at Titus Andronicus as a true exploitation play. It’s violence for the sake of violence. Shakespeare aimed to entertain, and, in this play, he did so in the most gruesome and ridiculous way possible. What’s really funny is how most of the plot is made up of old myths. Shakespeare actually references the myths he’s ripping off in the play, and he does so in order to highlight exactly how much more violent and exciting his version is. If a woman had her tongue cut out in Greek myth, she’s losing a tongue and her hands. If one son got fed to a parent, Shakespeare’s going to feed his mother (not his actual mother, of course) two sons. Not only that, but Aaron is probably one of Shakespeare’s most unapologetic villains. Upon being told that he will be buried up to the chest in earth and left to starve, he states: “If one good deed in all my life I did / I do repent it from my very soul.” Taymor’s Titus, on the other hand, is a warning against the horrors of war and excessive violence.

Toy Plane Crash Toy Soldier Blood Explosion

That right there is the sort of subtle imagery that will run throughout the movie.

So how does Taymor take one of the most pointlessly violent plays and turn it into something that preaches peace? In my original paper, I argued that Titus’ costumes change throughout the film in a way that embraces the simple, base entertainment value of the original play while adding to Taymor’s more serious meaning; however, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don’t think that. I think that Taymor meant to make a serious, art house film, and she ended up making a comedy by accident. For the next few blog posts, I’ll be looking at my original argument about costume and talk about what she does with them and whether or not I think that works.

Part Two is this way!

I’m clearly going insane

So, the promises I made to update regularly are not, naturally, being fulfilled. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I define “regularly” as at least once a week, and I’m pretty sure that my newest update was on last Friday. To be fair, I was counting on my Writing for the Web class to remind me. It’s a Tuesday/Thursday class, so I figured that I would be reminded to get my blog-butt in gear in time to get a post together. However, because I am going insane, I missed class on Thursday. Now, how could I miss class due to my own insanity? Simple–I left for class an hour later than I should, and I had no idea that I was late until I parked my car. I’m not kidding. My class is at 11am, and I left at 11:30am without thinking anything of it. Maybe, after two years without taking any math classes, my brain has finally forgotten everything number related, and the numbers “ten” and “eleven” are now merely arbitrary terms devoid of all meaning. Whatever the case, I woke up early so that I could finish my forum postings that were due that afternoon. I did so and had a decent amount of time to spare (I cannot imagine why), so I made an egg sandwich, or more accurately, I scrambled some eggs and tried to keep them in-between two pieces of toast for the amount of time it took to bring the whole mess up to my face. Then I took my shower and drove to class. On my way to class, I marveled at the lack of traffic and wandering pedestrians. Pleased, I parked only to suddenly realize that my clock read 11:45. It had read 11:44 only a minute ago, but I hadn’t been forty-five minutes late for class then. At 11:44, I still thought that I was on time.

So yes, I have finally gone totally insane. Soon, I’ll be leaving the house only to realize that I didn’t put on shoes after I’ve been at work for an hour. I’ll read ten chapters of a book for class on Monday only to realize that we aren’t, in fact, studying the novels of Terry Pratchett in my Shakespeare class. I’ll be less than twenty-four hours away from the due date of a seven page paper before realizing that I haven’t read any of the source material that I have to write about. Oh wait. That’s actually happening now.

PS: Sometime in the coming week, I plan to post a review of the movie Melancholia, but for now, I must paper.