Monday, December 28, 2009

Beatles Rock Band

I suppose I should start this post with the statement that as self-rescuing princesses go, I'm pretty spoiled.

That being said, for Christmas, my brother and sister and I received the limited edition Beatles Rock Band, with the Ringo drum kit and the Hofner bass controller and the standing microphone.  After opening, we promptly went downstairs to the game room to try out our new group present.

A little background, the Beatles are something of a family gem for us.  My dad, having been born in '52, was right in the middle of Beatles Mania, and passed that passion on to me, and I have in turn passed it on to my brother and sister.  They don't quite get *why* this band is so important yet, but they will... oh they will.

Anyway, the game play is pretty similar to other versions of Rock Band and Guitar Hero that I have played, with one very important difference: its the freaking Beatles, man!  I enjoyed playing Left-Handed Bass (yes, I am the spawn of Satan), while singing lead, just like Sir Paul.  I was also very impressed with the animation.  The true Beatles/Art Buffs out there will recognize the fact that the cover art for the Fab Four's albums closely echoed the trends in popular art of the time, and the animation did an excellent job of capturing that.  From Meet the Beatles to Let it Be, there was a definite evolution, and it was awesome.

The other novel thing about this game is that you can have several vocal mics hooked up that can sing Lead Vocal or Harmonies, something not attempted by any previous versions of Rock Band.  Part of the awesomeness of The Beatles was not necessarily their instrumental or their vocal prowess, but the fact that they did both so well at the same time, and this game captures that difficulty.  As a vocalist who plays a principle instrument in my two Irish Folk bands, I found this to be a challenge, although not an insurmountable one.  I'd be interested to hear what others who aren't used to playing and singing at the same time have to say about the difficulty of game play.

But one of the amazing things was playing with my brother and sister.  They are much younger than me, and so often did not have a historical or political reference point for songs such as Taxman.  It was wonderful to see their worlds open up as I explained to them what was going on in the music that had nothing to do with The Beatles, per se.  This made game play a family experience, and I got to feel smart.  Teachable moments, right?  I mean, how often can you talk about the Bristish Economy of the 1960s and have it be relevant to the video game you're playing?

Overall, I give Beatles Rock Band an A+.  Am I biased?  Yes.  But should you run out and get it?  Still yes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Self-Rescuing Post

I am incredibly emotional and morose today, and so to cheer myself up, I'm going to write out a list of stuff that makes me happy.

1) Office Supplies.  I really love Office Supplies, and one of my favorite things about my job is that I get to order them every week.  Pens, Pencils, Markers, Folders, Binders.... going through Staples with me is like watching a kid in a candy store.

2) The Beatles.  There's something about their music that I find incredibly comforting and sentimental.  Maybe its because my dad loves them, or so many other important men in my life.  Whatever the reason, I always feel a little better when John, Paul, George, and yes even Ringo sing me to sleep.

3) The color purple.  I love purple.  You could seriously hand me a piece of purple construction paper, say, "I thought of you because its purple."  And I'd be on cloud nine.  Not lavender, mind you, PURPLE!

4) Coffee.  I love coffee. I love it fancy, simple, in between.  Oh, and I take it like I like my men: pale and sweet.  My male roommate says he likes his coffee like he likes is Presidents: Kenyan with a little cream.  No matter your political leanings, its funny!

5) Star Wars.  That's the original series, mind you.  As far as I'm concerned, there are three Star Wars Movies, two Indiana Jones Movies, two Terminator Movies, and its such a shame they never made a sequel to the Matrix. 

6) Making fun of bad sequels.  Maybe I'm a heartless bitch for mocking the efforts of so many people, but really, Hollywood's been doing this a long time, you'd think they'd have learned by now.  But then, I suppose bad sequels have been a Hollywood staple forever.

7) Big Bang Theory.  Finally, a show about me and my friends.

8)  If you haven't discovered this little gem of the internet, go.  Go now.

9)  Speaking of internet gems:

10)  Friends.  I always, always, always have to be thankful to and grateful for my fabulous, wonderful, loving, generous, supportive, insane, crazy, commitable, lovable, amazing friends.

This is the self-rescuing princess, armed today with coffee, lots of office supplies, Beatles in the background, and a box of tissues, signing off until next time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Someday my Prince will... get rescued?

I realize its only been a week since I started this blog, but I've already had time to over-think it.  I've told myself I have to be smart enough, techy enough, geeky enough, to attract and interest an audience.  As with many things in my life, my philosophy has been, "I have to be different."  Everything in my adult life, from picking career paths and colleges, to choosing lover and boyfriends has revolved around this one, driving, nearly pathological sentence: I have to be different.

The thing is, I am different.  I'm artsy, and (if you'll pardon a little self-horn-tooting) smart, and geeky, and feminine, and a thousand other dichotomous elements that all somehow fit to make up me.  As are we all, I suppose.  All us "self-rescuing princesses" have at least two people running around in our heads, each whispering sweet (and not-so-sweet) nothings in our ear about our role in society, our needs and desires, and how they do or do not fit with typical gender roles and the modern world.

I suppose that's where I should have started.  Where, exactly, does a self-rescuing princess fit into the world?  Its not as though I'd be entirely content with a white picket fence and a dog and a neglectful husband, like the housewife of the 1950s.  However, its not as though I want to find myself in a relationship with an emasculated man who is more worried about whether his belt matches his shoes than how to provide for his family.

But there is the part of me that wonders, and worries, what kind of person will see me, my independent, fervently perfectionistic, and altogether ungainly nature and say, "hey, break me off a piece of THAT!"  Certain of my male friends have cautioned me that I have the potential to attract a certain percentage of unwieldy douchebags, to which I can attest, but I have to wonder, when does it end?  When do I find the person that's my perfect match, who sees the self-rescuing princess as well as the vulnerable human and still wants to hang?  

Perhaps he's not out there.  Or maybe, just maybe, I might have to rescue him.  Perhaps he's locked in a tower somewhere, with a dragon and a gorgon standing guard, and all he's waiting for is a kiss from a self-rescuing, prince-rescuing princess to break the evil spell and set him free.  I know, and if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass when he hopped.

Still, I will cling steadfastly to my hope, and believe that he's out there, waiting for me to come find him.  Because with out hope... well, I'm not a pretty picture, no matter how much makeup you slap on my face.

Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  No matter your religious affiliation, you have to marvel at a system so perfectly engineered, to specifically designed that not only do the seasons wax and wane, but that they do it so perfectly and specifically that the exact zenith of each season can be predicted with enough accuracy to create holidays around their celebration.  Some may look at God and see Science, but I look at Science and see God.

The celtic pagans believe that now is time of rebirth, a time to create new resolutions and to elimate that which does not serve.  The Christians, too, celebrate one particularly special birth, and the Jews also celebrate a time of miracles and promises of a better life to come.  Even Science, the fastest-growing religion today, acknowledges that today marks the last time this year when the days will get shorter, and that spring is most certainly impending. 

The exchage of gifts, of good wishes, and of special messages and thoughts are all traditional this time of year, and since I missed Hannukah and will probably not be online for Christmas, I want to wish all of my readers, past, present and future, a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Good Solstice, Happy Kwanza, and Blithe Whatever Else I Missed. 

Yes, Blithe.  I'm bringing brainy back.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dances With Smurfs

Its been nearly a decade since James Cameron has released a film.  I was a huge fan of Titanic (I was 15 when it came out, you do the math), and retrospectively enjoy the aliens movies (further math can help you to determine why I did not enjoy them when they came out).  I had seen the hype at ComicCon, trailers and previews online and in the theaters, and my interested was piqued.  So armed with my roommate sidekick, two pairs of 3D glasses, and a trustee latte, I sat down and prepared myself the awesomeness that promised to be: AVATAR.

I will not give a blow-by-blow of the shots, dialogue or plot, because in my personal opinion, people who post spoilers should be boiled in their own Mountain Dew Code Red and buried with a cursed D20 in their heart.  However, I feel that some context is needed, so let it simply be known that we follow the story of Jake, a human who travels to a distant planet which is rich in a natural resource us meddling earthlings wish to collect.  It is also rich in its on indigenous flora and fauna, including what we all know is out there from the previews: Big Blue People.  Being a lover of the Sci-Fi genre in general, and having watched Smurfs as a child, I found this both endearing and confusing.  Aren't blue people little?

But I digress.  Let it first be known that the movie is 2 hours and 40 minutes long (not quite as long as the 3 hours 1 minute of the theatrical release of "Dances With Wolves"... but close), so I strongly suggest peeing first, and skipping the huge drink if that is your custom, because if you leave the theater you *will* miss something.  Second, if you elect to see it in 3D as I did, and especially if you wear contacts as I do, bring eye-drops, because blinking will not be high on your list of priorities.  

One of the stars of this movie is not an actor, but the world they live in.  The realm of humans clearly shows technology we don't have, however much of it is not so far out of reach as to be detrimental to the suspension of disbelief.  And the alien world... its every Video Game World Builders dream, and ever coder's nightmare.  The creators behind this world started from the ground up to examine what plant, animal, and intelligent life would be in the world James Cameron envisioned.  The creativity of everything from respiration to the people's culture is astounding, pulling from several different tribal cultures and also allowing the idiosyncrasies of the planet to inform the intelligent people's way of life.

Those who have come to think of Sigourney Weaver as a Cameron staple will not be disappointed, as she has a strong supporting role in this movie.  Fear not, we still have a lovable strong female to follow, however Cameron takes a turn from his norm and centers chiefly on a male character, Jake.  The story is told not through his eyes, but through an omniscient narrator that really seems to like him more than anyone else.  This works out for the best as, conveniently, the action and drama seems to focus around him.  Cameron crafts his growth and involvement brilliantly in a way that is both true to the character and to the story he wants to tell.

But the true stars of this film are truly the animators.  I have one word for the animation in this film, and it is: flawless.  It has long been my theory that animation will truly have integrated itself into film-making when the work falls away, and all that is left is the art, the story.  From the establishing shots, to the non-verbal communication cues between the animated characters, to every detail of the world the animators created, it was just freaking real.  Looking back on the movie, there were several scenes where animated characters were incorporated into live-action shots, and live-action characters were incorporated into mostly animated scenes.  At no point was my thought process, "Wow, that's a good effect," it was more along the lines of, "the Big Blue People are next to the Short Tan People."  The film was so immersing, the storytelling so diverting that I  think I can safely say that for animation in film-making, and computer graphics as a whole, the barre has most certainly been raised.

To touch briefly on the negative sides of the movie, there were three that I can see.  The first is that we've seen this story before.  I won't say where, but if you see the movie, you'll know.  The second is that AVATAR is definitely a movie with a goal and a message.  Again, not a new message, but there you go.  The last is that I found myself a little distracted by the racial stereotypes of the "White Man's Culture" (which historical has been to conquer, change, and move on) trying to subvert the "Non-White Man's Culture" (which historically is strongly steeped in spirituality and tradition).  None of these hindered or harmed my enjoyment of the movie, however I've been told that if a review is entirely glowing people will wonder if you've been paid to write it.  James Cameron, if you would like to pay me to write a review, you can email me at cmbroderick at gmail dot com.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, it was well worth the $15 for 3D, the 10:35pm start time, and even staying up till almost three to be the first on my block to review it.  A must see for the geeky-inclined this holiday season.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Self-Rescuing What, Now?

Many years ago, a powerful witch abducted the daughter of a well-to-do merchant family, placing her in a dark and gloomy castle.  The witch placed a spell on the castle, swearing the girl would only be rescued when a prince strong and brave enough to conquer the monsters therein and rescue the hapless damsel came to call.

But something went wrong.  For this damsel was, in fact, no such thing, and simply could not wait to be rescued.  And so, off she went, learning anything and everything she could, both about being a damsel, AND a knight, and went on to slay her guardians and free her own damned self from her unfairly applied bonds.

Problem was, the princess, while beautiful and wise, had trouble finding her place in the world.  The other princesses seemed threatened by her similarities to knights, and the knights didn't quite know what to do with a princess who knew how to rescue herself.  So there she was, armed with knowledge befitting a princess as well as a knight, wondering what the hell to do with herself. 

And so, she started a blog.  To what purpose?  To find other self-rescuing princess.  To find a knight willing to accept the challenge she presented.  To tell her story.  Yes... to tell her story.

End Chapter One.