Archive for July, 2012

What do you write about when you have nothing to write about?

Is a question you ask when you have nothing to write about.  Like I do.  Right now.  And so I decide to write about nothing in a terribly meta sort of way.  I didn’t watch a movie last night (I know, bad blogger, not keeping promises), so I don’t have a movie to review.  I’ve only just started a new book (Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders), so I don’t have anything to write about in that department, either.  (Actually, I do, but my review of The Night Circus isn’t long enough to merit an entire blog post.)  I have a review of The Dark Knight Rises, but I don’t like it enough at the moment to post it.

I could write about how I didn’t sleep well last night and the ended up sleeping through the whole day instead, but I’ve already done an entry about my whatever insomnia (which may or may not be actual some kind of insomnia, I don’t know, I’d probably have to see a doctor to find out for sure).  I could write about how I’ve been feeling depressed as hell lately, but who the heck wants to read about that?  (Reading about depression is depression; who’d have thunk it?)  I could write about the Olympics, but it is really hard to excited about something that I can’t really watch live at all.  (I am trying to watch the women’s gymnastics team final at the moment, which would be more exciting if I didn’t already know who placed where and when.  It’s also annoying how I know NBC is only going to show the teams that placed and maybe one other team, which means I won’t be able to see the nerdfighting gymnast from Great Britain.  Which sucks.)

So instead I’m going to write about how I have nothing to write about.  Actually, now that I think about it, I have quite a few things to write about, but I don’t think any of them are actually interesting enough for me to write about.  I could write about how awesome the first season of The Legend of Korra (seen previously here), but it ended almost two months ago, so it doesn’t seem terribly relevant anymore.  I could write about Young Justice, a rather fantastic DC Comics animated show that I’ve recently gotten into, but I’m just going to be stubborn and not do it because I don’t feel like it right now.  I could write about the books I’ve got in my giant stack of “to be read” books that is sitting next to my bed, but you’ll hear me talking about all of those soon enough, I hope.

I have nothing to write about, and yet I am still prattling on about all the things I could be writing about.  I could write about the vacation I went on with my parents earlier this month, wherein we drove through Salt Lake City, San Francisco, all the way down to Los Angeles.  Where I visited Disneyland as usual and got quite a few pictures (both at Disneyland and on the road).  But I would have to dig a crapton of pictures out of their folder and upload them, and the snow safari of last January kind of proved to me that that was a great deal of trouble that I don’t feel like going into quite now.

What can I say? I’m a lazy blogger.  Honestly, I’m surprised I’ve managed to post something every day for the last ten? days.  It’s a freaking Christmas miracle that I have at all.  Part of the reason I’ve managed it at all is because I’ve been drafting posts in advance, but that might very well change if I don’t stay on top of things.  Like, this post isn’t going to the drafts immediately, so I’ll still only have a couple archived up, which means I’ll have to write more.  It would certainly help if I stayed on the watching movies-reading books train, so that I have more movie and book reviews to give you in the future.  It’s a difficult process, all in all.

So this is a post about how I have nothing to post about, though in truth I actually clearly have quite a few things to post about.  I just don’t want to post about any of them.  Words of wisdom from your lazy blogger, ladies and gentlemen.


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On Doctor Who

Do you ever find something–a book, a movie, a person, whatever–and afterwards, you can’t imagine your life before that thing, or without that thing?  Because that’s kind of how I feel about Doctor Who.  (For the uninitiated, Doctor Who is an almost-fifty-year-old British scifi show about a time-traveling alien and the various adventures he gets up to across the whole of space and time.  It’s awesome.)

I’ve only been a fan of Doctor Who for a little over a year now.  Thanks to my meticulous journal-keeping, I actually know the date when I started watching the show (or at least the newer incarnation of it that began in 2005): June 17, 2011.  I watched the first episode on Netflix Instant on a complete whim, and by the time it was over, I was in love.  I took to Twitter, wondering aloud what had taken me so long to get on the Whovian boat, why I hadn’t bothered to check it out sooner.  Yes, the first episode (and many of the episodes that would follow) was really cheesy and kind of ridiculous, and the effects were middling, but there was some spark of essential joy that sprang from my screen to my heart.  I told myself that I was going to pace myself through the episodes, but by the next day I was flying through them, and by the end of the next week I had completely caught up with the show, and had joined the fandom’s growing anticipation for the conclusion of Series 6.

Now, of course, I feel like a full-fledged (or at least slightly fledged) member of the fandom, mostly thanks to its widely entrenched presence on Tumblr.  I’ve written fanfiction pieces, messed around with manipulating screencaps on my freeware Photoshop clone, and of course purchased quite a bit of merchandise, ranging from DVDs to a plethora of t-shirts.  I love the show, I love most of the fandom (we won’t talk about the parts I don’t like).  It’s become a shiny little part of my life, one of the things I can generally count on to make me happy, even if it does sometimes make me blubber through tears.

I’ve even started watching the original episodes of the show that aired from the 1960s through the 1980s (the show was unfortunately cancelled in 1989).  They have that same spark that the newer episodes have, that spark of wonder and hope and joy that singles the show out as singularly Doctor Who.  I’ve only barely made a dent in the dozens of stories that date from this period, but I can’t wait to make my way through them all.

In short, Doctor Who is a thing I now love.  I can’t imagine what my life (both my fandom life and my life in general) would be like without it.  It helped me bond with a new roommate during my last semester at university, and it has helped me make some great friends both online and off.  I am eagerly anticipating the start of the seventh series, and I can’t wait to see what the show brings to the table as it heads into its fiftieth year.

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Both of these books really make me want to travel to Europe.  The farthest abroad I’ve ever been is Niagara Falls in Canada.  I don’t have a passport, and my social anxiety makes traveling in the US kind of nightmarish.  And yet, these two books have enticed me to think about traveling to Europe.

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes (by Maureen Johnson) is about Ginny, a 17-year-old American who finds herself traveling abroad after receiving a package from her recently-deceased aunt containing a backpack and a list of instructions to make her way to a New York City noodle shop.  It is there that she receives the titular envelopes, which send her on a whirlwind journey around Europe, starting in London and winding all the way around the Continent, following the instructions her aunt has left for her in each envelope, which will presumably lead her European adventure to some great and interesting end.

One of the things I really loved about this book was how relatable Ginny was as a character.  A lot of her initial awkwardness in her travels seemed to mirror almost perfectly how I would probably feel in that situation, and even as I was sometimes closing the book to get away from the secondhand embarrassment, I could understand where Ginny was coming from.  Seeing another person (even if they’re a fictional person) deal with the problems you fear facing in the real world is kind of cathartic, I suppose, and for all her occasional awkwardness, she is a very sweet and interesting main character.

The book’s far reaching plot is also a source of great interest, thanks to Johnson painting Ginny’s myriad destinations as both tourist-filled lands and actual Places in their own right.  The various people Ginny meets along the way also seem to show the reader different ways of traveling–ranging from itinerary-packed outings that leave no time for enjoying the sights to spur of the moment decisions that send the travelers flying (or sailing) off to destinations at the last moment.  All in all, Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes is a fun read, thanks to Johnson’s memorable characters and humor-infused narration.

The other book I’ve read that gives me a hankering for world travel is Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss, which is about a high school senior, Anna, who has been sent to Paris for the last year of her education by her Nicholas Sparks-esque father.  While there, she meets St. Clair, an utterly charming and rather handsome fellow student whom she develops feelings for almost immediately.  There’s just one problem: St. Clair has a girlfriend, and one of Anna’s new friends has feelings for him, too.

Of course, that’s a summary of the book that really doesn’t do it justice.  The book doesn’t completely revolve around romance, but also pays a lot of attention to Anna’s growth in her final year of high school, as her friends help her out of her shell and help her feel more at home in Paris.  Anna is a great main character and narrator, bringing humor and passion to the book’s proceedings.  I also rather liked her because she’s a big movie fan, and while I loved Min from Why We Broke Up, her obsession with obscure avante garde films (that technically only existed within the book’s universe, curse you Daniel Handler) was a bit distancing, whereas I really found Anna’s cinephilia to be more in line with my own.  She loves movies, she runs her own movie review site.  Her favorite director is Sofia Coppola.  She has a copy of Roger Ebert’s Your Movie Sucks, for crying out loud!  So that was a wonderful aspect of her character that I found not only relatable but also well-grounded and believable.

The part Paris plays in the novel is rather brilliant as well, giving the reader a view of one of the most romantic cities in the world that is truly romantic itself.  While Anna has some difficulties at first, the way she adapts to the city (and particularly to its many, many movie theaters) helps the reader grow accustomed to it as well.

Anna and the French Kiss is a wonderful book, and even though the romance plot gets a bit involved in the way romance plots are wont to do (i.e., no one tells anyone anything), it ultimately doesn’t detract from what is a rather delightful and romantic (in the more traditional sense) book.

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So I’m going to attempt to write about my writing without falling into a pit of depression and despair. I’d ask you to stop me, dearest reader, but since I’m drafting this in advance you aren’t exactly going to do that. I’ll have to police myself, I suppose.

I like to think of myself as a writer. Otherwise I would not have this blog. I got my bachelor’s degree in creative writing and I’m pretty sure I made an A in all of my creative writing classes at university. I managed to get a story published in my university’s literary magazine, and by some miracle I got a brief piece published in a nonfiction journal (which you can read here).

So going on purely empirical evidence (grades, small publications, etc.), I am a pretty good writer.

It would be a miracle of the universe if mere empirical evidence could convince a person of the truth. (See also: global warming deniers.)

Because despite this apparently overwhelming evidence, I have this annoying habit of trying to tear myself down as a writer. I convince myself that I am terrible, that I am untalented, that I should just give up. I ignore the evidence and give it up to luck and to fluke, I ignore everyone who tells me that I am good, I hide under my desk and mutter to myself in the darkness.

I wish I knew what caused this. I wish I knew why I ignored the evidence. I wish I knew why I wanted to give up. I wonder if people ever feel this way about the things they’re passionate about. Do swimmers get frustrated and want to give up? Knitters? Underwater basket weavers? Does this happen to everyone? Or does it only happen to a few “lucky” people like me?

I don’t know. I try to write every day. I manage to eke out fanfiction when my original fiction ideas are dried up, but I’ve now entered an unfortunate state where I’m stuck between original and fanfictional ideas. I open a document and find myself stuck, and for some reason this makes me believe I shouldn’t be a writer. I ignore the empirical evidence that I have tacked to my wall (acceptance letters) and sitting under my notebooks (diploma) and convince myself that because, on one night, at one time, I couldn’t put a word or five to paper.

Which is kind of silly. I’m sure swimmers and knitters and underwater basket weavers must have off days. And writers have to rely on the inscrutable machinations of their minds–they can’t blame something on an off muscle, or tired fingers, or unruly basket material. Sometimes your brain just doesn’t want to do the work.

So maybe I should start to pay more attention to the empirical evidence, even if I’m not doing a great job of amassing more of it. And sometimes I should just accept that I’m going to have an off day. It doesn’t mean that every day is an off day. It just means that I have to try again tomorrow.

(So how’d I do on the depression and despair front?)

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As you are no doubt aware, the Thirtieth Summer Olympiad started in London tonight.  Some of you might not care about this, but I care about the Olympics quite a lot.  I have been watching them fairly regularly since the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 (though I didn’t pay much attention to the Athens Games in 2004).  They’re basically the only sporting event that I care even remotely about.  They display a lot of sports that don’t normally get mainstream coverage, especially in the US, and to be honest, they’re just a lot of fun to watch.

More than anything, I really, really love the sense of international camaraderie that the Games create.  For once, we all get along. For two weeks every two years, the world comes together and celebrates through friendly sportsmanship (though there’s always occasionally someone who decides to be a jerk about it; I’m sure you can think of several examples from years past).  It is in many ways, I think, about the great things that the human race is capable of.    It’s a beautiful, extended moment of peace throughout the world, and it is something I desperately wish that we could realize more often.

I love the Olympics.  I love what it means for the world.  I love the way they make me feel.  I love the spirit of competition and sportsmanship and unity.  It’s an amazing feeling that I wish I could find more often in the world.  I’ll settle for these two weeks every two years, though, because the wait is almost always worth it.

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Only not really, because who the hell wants to be friends with insomnia?

I have always had a tendency to take naps at odd times, but for most of the summer I’ve been trying (in vain) to deal with the fact that my body just does not want to sleep at the hours that normal folks keep.  For example, a few nights ago I went to bed at around 11:30pm, which is actually pretty early for me.  I was awake until well after three.  I spent about two and a half hours lying in bed, trying to get my body to go to sleep before I gave up and got on the internet for an hour.  (I refuse to comment on whether this might have exacerbated my problem.)  And even when I went back to bed, it still took a while for me to finally doze off.

The net result of this being awake until the wee hours thing is, of course, the fact that I then find myself sleeping in until well into the morning, and sometimes even into the afternoon.  If you’re as obsessed about getting As Many Things As Possible done during the day like I am, sleeping the morning away is kind of annoying, and certainly more than enough to make you want to try and normalize your sleep schedule.

I have tried.  I’ve tried staying up all night, with the only end result being that I fall asleep during the middle of the day and am thus wide awake when nighttime rolls around.  I haven’t tried drinking herbal tea as much as I probably should.  I may very well experiment with that in the coming days.  I almost had things back to normal after I got home from vacation at the beginning of this month (you’d be surprised how tiring sitting in a car all day is), but one night spent up too late spelled my doom on that account.

Still, I haven’t allowed my ridiculous sleep schedule to totally rule me.  Since I started my little personal improvement experiment, I have managed to get everything done that I need to.  I imagine if I stopped trying to conform my sleep schedule to my life and approached things from the other way around, I might be even more productive.  But old habits die hard, I suppose, and part of me wants to keep my sleep schedule halfway “normal” for the mysterious, unknown time when I might again have a job that requires me to be awake during the daylight hours.

That time probably isn’t going to be arriving any time soon, but by God, I’m going to be awake when it does.

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At the start of the summer, when I still believed (at least a little) that I might be able to get things done, I sat down and made a great big list of movies I had on DVD that I’d never seen before, along with as many interesting looking movies I could find on Netflix Instant to watch.  There was also a tiny column for theatrical releases.

As you’ve probably already guessed, I have watched a grand total of none of those movies (with the exception of about three of the theatricals).  I’m rather difficult to lock down into a habit, though I’m certainly trying with this new “blogging every day” leaf.  The list I’ve made is rather expansive and includes movies that I own personally and movies that span the rather ample collection of my parents’.

I have a new goal.  I’ve been turning over a lot of new leaves here at K.N. Industries, and it seems only reasonable that I add “watching all of these damn movies” to the list.  So.  Starting today, I will try to watch one movie a day, preferably from the list, though honestly watching any kind of movie would be a huge plus.  I’ll include the list after a cut so you can look it over and make fun of me for all the classics that I’ve somehow never seen.  (Yes, I’ve never seen The Godfather.  My inner Film Student is ashamed, believe me.)

And then I will start blogging about the films.  Hopefully with reviews, or at least with quick thoughts on each one as regards direction, writing, cinematography, or whatever else might strike my fancy.  It will be a glorious journey, and I’m rather hoping that it will allow me to continue my film education even though I technically graduated two months ago.  (It’s also a great way to forestall growing up.  I’m just a student without a school, all right?)

Without further ado, The List: (more…)

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