bloodyrosemccoy: (Elsa Lets It Go)
Rereading one of my old notebooks from when I was sixteen/seventeen--a bit of old research. I remember Teen Me as being an insufferable know-it-all. Turns out I was, but I was also extremely smart and funny. I was right in my religious awakening, which for me consisted of reading Stephen Hawking's books and thinking DAMN science is cool and also kind of being baffled to realize that other people seemed to actually believe their weird religious nonsense.* I was witty and full of wonder and excited about life and kind of a jerk with my friends. Also, there was a little bit of bad poetry, because of course there was.

And I was depressed.

I think I had my first bout of depression at age 15. A year and some change later, another came along. It's a little difficult for me to read some of those entries--though I seemed to recognize the moods/thoughts were not right, and commented on them with a lot of snark, they were still very THERE, and I remember the sadness. I also remember a more difficult-to-describe emotion: when trying to pull myself out of it, I would try to do things with my family, and they would not be enjoyable even though I knew I enjoyed them in the past.** This led to a sort of dread of those supposed-to-be-fun times, because they wouldn't be fun and would I ever be able to connect again? (This came to a head in October when we went to get pumpkins--there might have been some yelling.)

So amidst my snark on high school and enjoyment of AP European History and my awe at what I was learning from Professor Hawking, this particular notebook discusses my going on antidepressants.

Here's what I said:

---

I feel just great today! I've made an important decision that may get my life back on track!

Here's the thing: Mom, Dad, my teachers, my counselors, [my psychiatrist], and I are very worried about my state of mind right now. It's a little scary--a few are afraid that I may wind up doing something stupid--they're afraid that, because of depression, I may resort to doping myself up. So, in order to stop me from doing this they decided, in an incredible display of logic, to: dope me up!

Yes. I'm going to go on antidepressants. I got sick of having nervous breakdowns at school every single goddam day, so Mom called [my psychiatrist], and they decided that, if I didn't object, they'd give me some medication.

Hell, yeah, I don't mind. I'd volunteer for a brain transplant to get rid of this desperation right now. I'm drowning in myself right now, and I'd really rather not be. I've tried solving it the tough way; now I'm going to try it The American Way (pills)

What puzzles me is the aversion people have to antidepressant pills. "You're not yourself when you're on those," they point out. But why is the self assumed to be a constant in the first place? The depression is dictated by chemicals [scribble] what's wrong with introducing other chemicals to get a different balance?

If someone has diabetes, then non one begrudges them insulin. Why, then, is seratonin different?

I'm personally fine with it. I'll ask a lot of questions, of course--but if I can get a firm footing in my whirlwind life, I'm willing to go for it!!

---

Why do I bring this up now? Well, because antidepressants are getting another bum rap in the news today. Or depression is. It's hard to tell sometimes. Antidepressants have that weird backwards-logic stigma where admitting you take them makes people MORE afraid of you--the "only sick people take pills; if you don't take pills, you won't be sick" fallacy. (Me, I'd rather find out that somebody was taking the pills they needed than that they weren't.)

Slate already has an article arguing that "depression" does NOT make you murder 149 other people (and discussing the difference between depression and "depression" in a wonderfully sensitive way--yes, we need to fix situational problems AND chemical imbalances). But I just wanted to point out from a depressed teenager's perspective, antidepressants were the SAVING GRACE. I was not going to murder anyone, but I was desperate and anhedonic, and antidepressants fixed that.

So to naysayers I will say: teenage me knew what the deal was. Maybe she can persuade you.


*Till then I was under the impression that Church was just a really DEDICATED book club, where they discussed Biblical stories as literature, which seemed strange but hey, if they liked it, good for them. I was extremely confused when I realized that people believed it in a far more "literal" sense.

Evidently, some Christians do treat it like literature, and they make a far better case for it that way. Hell, the way Fred Clark describes it, especially in his incredible dissections of Left Behind vs. his theology I actually do agree with a lot of Christianity. Except for, y'know, the whole "whether there is a god" thing.

**For a brilliant description of this detachment, check out Allie Brosch's Depression Part Two at Hyperbole and a Half. It is the best description I've ever read of depression. And it has an interesting effect: everyone who has never been depressed reads it and earnestly says, "This has taught me a lot! I will try to be more sensitive in the future!" Everyone who has been depressed reads it and says, "OH GOD I LAUGHED MY ASS OFF."
bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
What I've Learned Since The Fall Equinox

  • Finnish-speakers play havoc with their own crazy case system, because there are so many different dialects.

  • Enameled copper can offer some bright colors to your chainmaille, but boy is it soft!

  • My original query letter was probably better than the revamped one.

  • Hatching birds' wings look ridiculously flippery and adorable.

  • Flu shots do not make you invincible.

  • There actually is a way to fix the digestive issues I've had since getting rid of the chestburster. Figures I'd take 14 months to actually think to ask my doctor about it.

  • I apparently don't remember the periodic table at all. Everything I thought I knew turned out to be wrong.

  • Body cameras on cops apparently wouldn't help, as grand juries will see videos of cops committing homicide and still not indict.

  • Remember to oil your bottle capper or it will lock up annoyingly.

  • There really were some Chuck E. Cheese murders back in the day, which might be what Five Nights At Freddy's is based on.

  • Upon going to schools for Space Place Outreach, I realized that all of those damn posters all over the wall are a huge problem for me because I have to read them. The other person has to keep snapping me out of a daze. God, I must have been so overstimulated as a student.

  • Gifted education is a lot more difficult than I expected.

  • I am okay at making lecture plans, but activity plans are beyond me.

  • Surface tension keeps your tears stuck to your face out in space.

  • After you've poured boiling water on your fingers, you might have to drain your blisters just to keep them from exploding when you flex your fingers.

  • Checking out sunspots with solar filters is pretty dang cool.

  • Suddenly becoming a de facto homeowner is a daunting prospect.

  • There is methane on Mars! HMMM.

bloodyrosemccoy: (Any Friends)
I am having a whole lot of school flashbacks now that I'm here at the Space Place.

See, my basic job description is Tell Kids How Cool Space Is. Which is pretty great. But my coworker, the guy who tries to keep all us presenters headed in more or less the same direction, has pointed out that I am specifically good at telling gifted kids about space.

"Oh, that's common," my friend who is a bona fide teacher informed me. "You teach to your own type. It takes a conscious effort if you're teaching other types."

So I've embarked upon a crash course in figuring how to teach other types of learners. It is REALLY DIFFICULT, you guys. When I was a kid, a lot of the techniques teachers used in the classroom to try to drill some knowledge into our skulls struck me as patronizing, redundant, and stupid. My coworker assures me that had more to do with my own brain than the teachers', and that the techniques that simply annoy me--like making kids repeat vocabulary terms--are quite useful. I have no idea if that's true, because if it is my own brain, there's no way I can be objective. So I have to believe him for now and try to do a lot of education that seems to me to be counterintuitive. And I keep flashing back to being a kid who had to put with this nonsense.

It also reminds me of something that was a unique problem for a gifted kid--that unlike other types of special ed, having/being a gifted kid was seen as desirable. And that made it really hard to talk about the problems involved (like frustration with bafflingly obtuse peers,* social awkwardness, and boredom at school) without getting a lot of "CRY MOAR, EMOKID" responses. Even now, I am not sure if I should talk about my life experience because people think it's bragging, when I'm mostly trying to figure out why the hell life seems so different to me than it does to others. So the Space Place job has been surprisingly revelatory.

But! It's not all terrible! The cool thing is that we are also called upon to tailor our lesson plans for different learning styles--like, for example, GIFTED KIDS. Which means that my unique talents are useful! I offered to try finding resources to expand our current lesson plans for the kids with the same kinds of upside-down brains as my own. So I get to dig into gifted resources and try them out, and it's gonna be AWESOME. I may be weird, but at least I an use my weirdness to help other weird kids really enoy their Valuable Learning Experiences. And that's what's making the Space Place job so darn much fun.


*I must have been annoying as fuck as a kid, beause I simply didn't understand how other people couldn't grasp concepts that seemed so simple.
bloodyrosemccoy: (ABCDEF Cookie Monster)
It is Day Camp Week at the Space Place! Oh, god, kill me now.

A few observations:

1. I have very little patience for rowdy third-grade boys. This might be unfair to them, but at least it makes me consistent, since I really had no use for rowdy third-grade boys back in third grade. I was the kid furiously wishing these other little fuckers would just settle the hell down so we could get some learning done or, ideally, so I could read my damn book in peace. Jeezus, school was exhausting.

2. Earnest nerd kids, though, are my favorite. The whip-smart ones who want to tell you all about X-TREME SPACE! or announce that their favorite planet is an exoplanet just make me all warm and fuzzy inside.

3. When I was a kid, I dreaded those scavenger hunt worksheets they sometimes gave you on field trips. They were a painful, anxiety-laced way to learn things. Now that I am older and wiser and able to observe younger kids, I can tell you that they still seem massively inefficient. The aforementioned rowdy kids are too busy hollering fart jokes at each other* to even pay attention to the exhibits, and the neurotic nerds get so hung up on filling out the sheet correctly that they miss the parts of the trip they'd otherwise find enthralling and thus secretly educational.

It did kill 20 minutes, though.

4. There's a nice teenage volunteer helping with the day camp. She has decided that we're friends. So she sits next to me, deep inside my personal space bubble, preferably at about my four o'clock. When I try to move--say, get up to get a drink of water and sit back down in a chair farther away from her, she immediately comes over and sits next to me in the new location. I think I'm managing to be nice, though I'm not sure. I have managed not to side kick her in the pelvis upon catching her over my shoulder AGAIN, so that's something.

5. Why the fuck does Pluto appeal so much to kids? These little bastards were still in diapers when it got reclassified as a dwarf planet, and yet they still say it's their favorite planet and that it's getting a bum rap. I always thought it was a space rock far less interesting than, say, Mars or Neptune, but kids seem to really identify with it or something.

And yes, I was glad when it was reclassified, mostly because of my sense of order. Its reclassification happened because we found a lot of other similar objects, which means that we are refining our definitions as further information comes to light. I found that highly satisfying. But when I talk to kids about it, I am more likely to say that I'm happy it's been reclassified because how would you like to go to a big family reunion and be the only kid at the grownups' table? That's boring! Maybe that's how Pluto felt when it was considered a planet, instead of a dwarf planet like its friends.

Anyway, yeah. That was Day 1. Tune in to Day 2, to see if I punt anybody through the wall! I just hope the nerds stay enthusiastic enough to counter that.


*Okay, yes, when I say "fart jokes," I pretty much exclusively mean they yell the word "fart" a lot.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Space Adventure!)
I've already got a reputation here at the Space Place. Every time I'm introduced to someone, they say, "Are you Jordan's Friend?"* Perhaps this means he's been talking about me. I think that's good news.

Anyway, just to add a thin layer of anonymity to this, I'm not gonna name the actual facility. Let's just say it will be the Space Place That Will Remain Super Secretly Nameless, But Totally Has:

  • Exhibits like Guess Your Weight On Other Planets, moon rocks, interactive simulations of planetary orbits, planet surfaces, and some kind of Rube Goldbergy exhibit with springs and levers and balls and dinging bells that you can interact with,

  • A giant spherical screen in the lobby that can project rotating simulations of each solar system planet and climates and tectonics and so forth (and also, because it is programmed by supernerds, has a Death Star mode and an OMG WTF GIANT EYEBALL MODE like you've just run into the second scariest thing in Super Mario 64.**),

  • A dome theater,

  • Crazy science demonstrations, and

  • The most unbelievably awesome gift shop ever. No, seriously, you guys. I am buying all my presents from this place from now on. Have a wedding? Birthday? Housewarming? Xmas? YOU ALL GET MYTHBUSTERS SCIENCE KITS, DAMMIT.

So yeah, this totally secret Space Place is GREAT.

Anyway, my job is in education presentations to K-12 school groups, so I get to work with the sphere, dome, and the secret bonus third option for schools to far away to drive all the way to Space Place, Skype + Magic Educational Remote View. All of these use simulation programs to check out stuff like What's In The Sky and The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas and Plate Tectonics and so forth. I've spent the last few days watching presentations in each of these media. It looks like a goddamn ton of fun, though I suspect the first time I try each one myself will be TERRIFYING.*** But first I've got to learn all the equipment, so next week I get to futz with the software and maybe make the eyeball follow patrons and see if any of them know that the secret is to run around it until it explodes into coins. It should get easier when the school year ends in a few weeks and I'll have time to do that. Later on, probably starting next school year, I get to travel to schools and demonstrate Cool Science to them.

I'm gonna have FUN here.

By the way, as you may expect, this place is full of nerds. Silly mustaches abound, one guy was telling me about the comic he's working on, I'm not gonna say who but ONE of us is trying to sell a YA fantasy novel and is (re)writing one about Doctors! In! SPACE!!, and I am pretty sure D&D groups figure into the weekly event schedule. There's even one guy who has been to Kenya, so even if we aren't talking strictly about NERD stuff, we still have things to connect on. I think I will do well here.

Plus, seriously, y'all, this gift shop. I am going to own more science bullshit than will fit in my house. I am okay with this.


*Except for the guy there who used to be my acting teacher back when I was, like, twelve. He knows me as "Mia." I know no one cares, but this guy was great back then, and it's a huge kick to talk to him again.

**Yes, second. Seriously, fuck that piano.

***The other "new" guy, who's been working in Concessions for years but is now graduating to an Edumacator, got to do his first ever presentation yesterday. Poor dope did well but was clearly flying on an adrenalin high.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Elsa Lets It Go)
I went to one actual Olympic event when they were here in Salt Lake. I don't even remember what it was specifically. I think it was the Men's Longass Ski Trek. It was surprisingly unmemorable. All I really recall was that it was chilly, one guy seemed to be having a ski malfunction, the audience had enough cowbells to make Christopher Walken question his commitment, and that later they had to take away the medalist's medal because he was using a hack, or whatever it is Olympic gamers use to cheat.

It was tough to avoid Olympic Fever when you could see the Olympic torch from your house, though. My aunt got totally into it and wound up going to all sorts of events.* It was all anyone in school talked about--scandals like the obligatory figure skating judge debacle and That One Time Mitt Romney Almost Committed Political Suicide By Saying The H-Word were big news. Everyone simply had to get these really strange fleece berets because the Canadian American okay that makes more sense team had worn them and I thought it was ridiculous, but somehow we each wound up with one. I suspect my aunt.** I for one obsessively read Dave Barry's daily writeups on them because god help me Dave Barry is hilarious.

One night my brother and Dad went downtown to try to get into the Women's Short Track. (You know, as spectators.) They hunted around for the scalpers who had been everywhere for days, but after like an hour and a half couldn't find anyone willing to sell them absurdly-priced tickets. Just as they were returning to the bus stop a Mysterious Dude appeared and bestowed upon them two tickets for super cheap. They sat in the section with a bunch of people who had just scored tickets and were feeling pretty good about themselves, and a bunch more people from the Netherlands who were feeling pretty good about themselves and about how Utah had relaxed its alcohol laws and about life in general, and watched Chris Witty win the gold.

My brother also got to see the medal ceremony for curling. His school had the tickets. Each of the area schools had been given tickets to specific events, and that was the year the three of us were divided between elementary, junior high, and high school. My sister's elementary got the closing ceremony tickets.

And my high school? Well, I say I only went to one official Olympic event. The other event was the Paralympic opening ceremonies.

The nice thing about the Paralympics is that the parade of nations is way shorter, so you can get down to business more quickly. We were sitting in the section where the Finnish and the Spanish athletes were, and as the music played we danced in the aisles with them. I liked watching the Jumbotron's ASL translators. And I have a very strong memory of one funny little thing. We were all given little penlights to shine to make the stadium look cool. They were white, but I also had a green one of my own with me at the time. I looked across the stadium and amidst the sea of white lights I saw another green one. So I flickered my green one and the other person flickered theirs back and we had a little moment of green-penlight-solidarity. Hi, green light person, whoever you were. I remember you.

It was a surreal couple of weeks. And it all comes back to me every time another Winter Olympics comes on. I still question the wisdom of having them here, but as long as they did happen here, it made for some interesting memories.


Fun Fact: Given that we had some freshly-minted Post-9-11 Paranoia, this was a really paranoid games. We had a running joke about security guys hiding in every bush and trash can, and there were metal detectors everywhere. The detectors became a problem because everyone had bought collectible and useful Olympic pins, and it hadn't occurred to anyone until too late that the pins were, you know, made of metal.


*She even managed to get into the figure skating, and I'm still not sure how. Nobody could get into the figure skating events. The tickets were insanely expensive and got bought up right away, and then the scalpers made them even more insanely expensive.

**I just recently threw mine out on account of it had fallen to the floor of my closet and was irreparably stanked up in the latest plumbing disaster. It's okay. I still have my "Hablo Español" pin, a snowglobe, and for some reason an Olympics-themed cast-iron skillet.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Lobot!)
This weekend I managed to convince a buddy and her roommate to help me do some reconnaissance on a roller rink. I've been wanting to find a good place to practice skating for a while, and this place is one everyone half-remembers from childhood.

The problem is, it's part of a Family Fun Complex, and the reason we all half-remember it is because somebody or other probably had a birthday party there once. So I figured it could go two ways. It could be like the swimming pool I frequented as a kid and be nicely regulated so that every style of enjoying oneself was represented, perhaps with all-skates or adult-skates or kid-skates or what not.

Or it could be a calamitous riot of chaos and anarchy, with little kids darting perpendicular to the flow of traffic on Razor scooters or Big Wheels and slightly larger kids obliviously cruising against the flow and perpetually desperate junior high kids trying to impress each other.

Guess which one it was?

So yeah, it was not a good way to practice skating, what with the loud music and the constant distractions of trying not to flatten small children.* It was fun, for what it was--I liked being able to try really cruising on skates, and some of those desperate junior high kids were clearly regulars and could do fabulous gymnastics while on roller skates, which was incredible to watch--but man, if I tried to make that a regular practice place my psyche would probably explode.

And it was rather a relief to be there when I WASN'T part of a birthday party, because MAN those were stressful back in the day. You'd be self-consciously assuming that everyone else knew more about how this mysterious Fun Complex worked than you did, and anyway you wanted to try the arcade games while everyone else was skating, and the music would be too damn loud and you couldn't hear your friends' conversation,** and any minute an overly-enthusiastic voice was going to come over the PA calling your party over to a picnic bench to have a slice of miserable sheet cake and Shasta soda. I am glad those days are over.

So my buddies and I skated around for an hour, I managed to fall heavily on one knee at one point, and then we left. And as long as we were in a Doing Fifties Stuff mood, we had burgers and root beer floats at an old-timey burger joint, and since I am always pretty one-track, I scored a bottle of their house-recipe cherry syrup because SODA-MAKING DOES NOT REST. And we all agreed it was a very fun evening and let's never do that again.

I think I'll have to stick with the park's skate-track in the summer time. Then all I have to worry about flattening is ducks.


*I realize a lot of this makes me sound like an old codger, but since I've had this opinion about The Kids With Their Little Scooters And Their Loud Musics And Their Hyperactively Hazardous Self-Absorption since I was about six years old, I have to conclude that I just AM an old codger and always have been.

**What you may notice I'm getting at here is that, even when it's music I like, I really hate it when it's constantly played so loudly that conversation has to be shouted. I dislike any loud background noise. Even before I had the personal epiphany that THIS was what bugged me, I spent my life subconsciously trying to avoid being in loud places.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Relaxin')
Watched Bambi for the first time since I was like eight last night.

I think I liked it better this time around. I could appreciate the backgrounds, which are astoundingly lovely, and the simple narrative, and especially the animation of the bunnies. God, whoever did them must have REALLY watched a lot of bunnies.*

Rewatching something I'd previously seen only as a kid is always fascinating. Gives me some insight into my thought processes from way back when. For one thing, as a kid I couldn't stand the soundtrack. I thought it was cloying and obnoxious, but was under the vague impression that it was For Grownups and wondered if that meant I'd like it better when I was one myself. Now, since I havebecome a grownup, I can put that theory to the test--and I can tell you all that, nope, it's still cloying and obnoxious.

Sometimes the questions in life DO get answered.

On the other hand, something else got better that I hadn't even thought of. Another of my childhood hangups--one I have only just recently realized was even there--was a disproportionately strong distaste for even the slightest of awkward moments. Things that wouldn't even faze me now; things I might not even have noticed if I didn't carry the memory of how much they disturbed me. But for itty bitty Amelia, a startling moment, a stumble, or even an accidentally too-loud voice would be enough to send me running from the room. And Bambi's baby phase is just one awkward moment after another. It all started coming back to me: him yelling "BIRD!" too strongly bothered me, as did his falling on the ice and, especially, that moment where he gets too enthusiastic about running onto THE MEADOW!!! and his mom has to chase him down. And a whole bunch of others besides. I think they embarrassed me, in some ill-defined way.

And yet I was totally untraumatized by the infamous Ma Gets Shot scene.** Go figure.

(The scene with the pheasants, however, is burned deep into my brain. That was INTENSE.)

Mostly I just liked the feeling of the nature in the movie. It was lovingly put together. I suspect it wasn't always accurate (I guess white-tailed deer rut in the fall, not the spring, and much like the Lion King I note they didn't go with the whole polygamy angle), but it was enjoyable.


*Though I did notice that they had pads on their feet, which is not a thing actual bunnies have. Rabbits have no pads on their paws, only fur. Which can be pretty hilarious. If you ever have the opportunity to see a rabbit try to bolt on a linoleum floor, don't miss it, because it's one of the few times that cartoon physics can be seen in live action.

**Thinking about it now, I suspect the reason it was so traumatic for so many other kids was twofold: the suddenness, and--even worse--the following moments when he's running through the vast, cold, empty woods calling for her. I can see how that would be the most horrific thing for a child--kids don't really grasp death, but the fear of suddenly being alone and helpless looms pretty large.
bloodyrosemccoy: (N64)
So today George Takei shared this photo on Facebook, and it got me laughing because I totally used to do that to my little sister when she wanted to play, because when you're little you're a right bastard. (She caught on pretty quickly, though. Damn you, swiftness of child development!)

But then I got kind of fascinated by the sheer number of sanctimonious people pitching a fit about Spending Quality Time With Kids in the comments. Normally I try to avoid comments sections, but sometimes I just can't help but look because you think, "There is no WAY someone is going to get angry about ... oh, my bad." I have a whole lot of opinions about well-rounded child development and parents who terrorize their kids with the Quality Time ideal and the values and drawbacks of video games ... but better folks than I have commented on those things.

Right now I want to address one aspect of video games that doesn't get mentioned very often. I'm not sure if that's because it's an experience unique to me (because I'm guessing it's not), but here's something you never see pointed out in these arguments: video games are an avenue for imaginative play.

Sure, they're no substitute for being outside--but neither is reading a book. You've got to just balance your interests. And when we were in front of video games, my siblings and I treated them a lot like we treated, say, playing with Ponies or Legos or Transformers or any of our other toys. We invented elaborate scenarios and dialogues for the characters--Mario's trek over Dinosaur Land was filled with arguments with Luigi, chats with Yoshi,* football games, food fights, random phobias, and all-around silliness, projected by our imaginations onto levels where the goal was SUPPOSED to be just getting from the left side of the screen to the right side. We would make up explanations for some of the weirder in-game phenomena. We'd abuse the hell out of our onscreen avatars as they acted out something that was only funny because our added narrative made it so.

As for the idea that video games can't possibly allow for interaction with other people--PLEASE. All of us--me, my brother, and my sister, plus any friends sitting in that bare room with us watching the action--were actively engaged. One of us might be playing, but all of us were involved in the invention, character development, song composition (yes, really), and resulting entertainment centered around the screen.

And later on I wrote sweeping epics set in Super Mario World and Hyrule (which were in the same world, actually, so Mario and Link had crossover adventures, as they did with Donkey Kong and Star Fox and Megaman and the Pokémon). I got a lot of writing practice from video games. Hell, my breakthrough into writing conlangs came when I decided to write a sentence in "Yoshese" and realized that I'd have to give it a real structure and thought "... this is fun."

I think people who never grew up with video games don't see that. And that's understandable--from the outside, a kid reading a book doesn't look very engaged, either; they're just sitting there staring at a chunk of paper. You have to look at it from the kid's point of view. Anything--rag dolls, Lego bricks, ponies, aquarium beads, paper dolls, yarn, toy trains, American Girl dolls, the sticks and rocks those self-righteous people are so enamored of--ANYTHING can help foster imaginative play, if the kid knows how to use them right. And believe me, if there's one thing kids know, it's how to use their imaginations.

So shut up about the damn video games, already.


*I think this is specifically why I don't like full voice acting in video games--the most I prefer is the incidental Charles Martinet-type noises, because I am supplying my own dialogue.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Hogfather)
Ah, memories.

FinalTrain_zpsf950a48d
I had to take this picture while standing between Dad and an HD football game. It was pretty difficult, actually.

Mom and The Neighbor Kid got out our old Playmobil electric train to put around the tree. We have a lot of old Playmobil stuff.* Aside from the usual playin' in the basement, where I'd spend hours making up stupid stories with which to entertain my siblings,** we'd also set out a lot of the playsets on the summer solstice for the fairies to use during their Midsummer parties. Because they were the perfect size, you know.

Anyway, so the train brought back memories.

Unfortunately, it also had the unforeseen consequence of completely shattering the mental health of the cat. One look at the little thing trundling around on its track and that was it.

CAT: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! IT'S THE IRON HORSEMAN OF THE APOCALYPSE

US: Look, cat, it's okay! It just goes in circles. And it can't move unless we turn it on.

CAT: DON'T BLINK

US: Uh, perhaps she'll get used to it.

*four hours later*

CAT: I HAVE NOT MOVED FROM MY VIGIL. THE TRAIN COULD CHARGE AT ANY MOMENT

ME: Jesus, cat. Here, I'll even CARRY you upstairs.

CAT: WHAT IF IT FOLLOWS US

ME: Here, sit on your teddy bear.

CAT: OH GOD DON'T LEAVE ME

We keep thinking she'll get used to it. So far, no good. Even upstairs, she keeps glancing toward the basement, as though it'll come roaring up at her any minute. Which is also bringing back memories--specifically, memories of being a very small child full of primal terror that there was a SKELETON in the basement and it would get me if I went down alone. And that experience tells me: even if she could understand my words, any explanation that the train was not about to get her would fail.

She did give it a nose poke last night, though, before fleeing. That might be a good sign. It's such a darn cute train, it'd be a shame to take it down on account of a panicking cat.


*Although not the circus stuff. I always really wanted the circus stuff. There were colors and feathers and elephants, for God's sake.

**A constant form of play for us--I'd get hold of Playmobil or LEGOs or miscellaneous Ninja Turtles and Barbies and run them through all sorts of dumb shit while my siblings giggled helplessly. Although I never really built with the LEGOs. I have a magic force field that causes LEGOs to fall apart.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Beastly)
Hey, cool! Just found Bruce Coville's latest book, Always October!

I remember it, too. There was a short story version of it in Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters* back in the day, and I always wanted to know more about the boy whose little brother turned out to be a monster. Now I've got the chance to find out, and to enjoy a nice old-fashioned Halloween story. I do love me some October.

Also, having an OCD kid as one of the main characters is kind of neat. And while the girl's horror-themed interjections are a little obnoxious, I do like her addition as another narrator. Looks like it'll be a good one to read while I'm hanging out with the neighbor's cat.


*I am sure my mom would love to destroy Bruce for those anthologies he did, since every time I read one I would spend at least one night sleeping on the floor in my parents' room so the monsters would not get me. While I believe the books ultimately contributed a lot to my imagination, I'm pretty sure Mom wishes I'd stuck with the one about the unicorns.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Bookstore Belle)
I have so many opinions about NPR’s audience-voted Top 100 YA Books that I don’t even know how to start. Plus, most of them boil down to “FUCK YEAH,” “OH HELL NO,” and “Wait, who?”, and that would get repetitive.

Mostly it’s fueling my urge lately to make a list of One Hundred Books You Can Blame For Shaping Teenage Amelia’s Brain—if I summon enough energy, I’d like to do a series of entries about some of those books that, sometimes embarrassingly, influenced me quite strongly—often in ways I didn’t even recognize for years. Be kind of fun to go back through them and see where they’ve taken me.

I wouldn’t be able to rank them, though. I don’t really like rankings anyway, since it seems to assign linear value to things that are far more multifaceted. (Which, come to think of it, is another opinion I have about NPR’s list.) I’d just wind up thinking through the ones that had a lasting impact. But it could be fun, so I’ll try to buckle down and do it.

If nothing else, it’ll make me feel like I’ve gotten some of my FEELINGS about this NPR list out. That’s got to be worth something.
bloodyrosemccoy: (N64)
Been in a space opera mood lately, so I bought myself StarFox 3D. Hadn't played StarFox 64 in a while, and thought "Hey, the upgraded version might be fun." So I turned it on.

GODDAMN.

Let me tell you, internet, if my sense of fantasy was shaped largely by Super Mario and Zelda, then my sense of science fiction is built pretty much on StarFox and its 64-bit follow-up.* I hadn't realized till I started playing again, but I have that game pretty much memorized. And I need an audio file of the entire playthrough to turn on whenever I am sad, because the instant my teammates start hollering at me to quit shooting THEM and aim for the bogeys on their tails (seriously, Slippy, who gave you an Arwing?), all is right with the world.**

The updated processing is nicely done, though I remain most impressed with Ocarina of Time 3D for that. I kept barging into every building just to admire the fancy new set designs. And the control interface was really nice in Ocarina, too.

Good times. Here's hoping I can find some new games that give me half the unmitigated glee of the ones from my childhood. Nostalgia being what it is, I doubt it, but I can dream, can't I?


*Well, okay, I'm oversimplifying a bit, what with my tendency at that same age to snarfle scifi/fantasy books like fistfuls of popcorn. I could easily come up with a personal list of The Top 100 Books You Can Blame For The Way I Am Today. But do not underestimate the influence of Shigeru Miyamoto's crazed fever dreams as a factor in my development, either.

**Falco no longer says "Damn" in that one bit of dialogue that was EXTREMELY memorable to a 12-year-old Utah girl, though. Now he says "crud." Although they all did say "dang" a lot in the original, and I never realized how extraordinarily funny that was.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Relaxin')
Sweet! All four seasons of Ocean Girl showed up on on Netflix instaplay!

God damn, I was obsessed with this show as a kid, on account of IT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME. On the one hand there was a bunch of kids living on a futuristic Underwater Dome Of Science, and on the other there was a feral alien girl who could hold her breath for forever and lived on an island and hung out with a humpback whale. CRACK, I TELL YOU. PRETEEN GIRL CRACK.

Of course, I didn't have my shit together enough to actually watch it every week, so I've only got a a hazy idea what the big story arc is. So I'm catching up on what I missed.*

Turns out I missed a lot. For one thing, the older kid who hangs out with the feral gal is kind of a neurotic controlling douchebag. He tends to boss her around about who she can meet and what she can do when she's on his station, mostly because he's paranoid that someone, somewhere, will see her someday and instantly conclude that she is a magic alien.

Which isn't entirely impossible, seeing as the people in this show are probably the worst I've ever seen at acting casual--and bear in mind I am a grandmaster of failing to act casual. (From both ends, too--I just can't lie, and I tend to forget other people do.) But even I can tell you a few things about how to do it.

Like, y'know, if you're trying to keep somebody's superpowers a secret, it's probably not helpful to respond to every random "Howzit?" with "OHSHITOHSHITOHSHIT NOTHING SHE'S JUST MY SISTER WHO WORKS HERE WE'VE NEVER MET AND SHE DOESN'T HAVE SUPERPOWERS WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT AND ANYWAY SHE'S DEAD ON THE MOON WITH STEVE OH LOOK OVER THERE IS THAT A MONKEY PLAYING A BANJO?" *flee*

Also, if you don't want people to observe those powers, even I know you probably shouldn't put giant HD displays all over public workspaces with live feeds of your pals doing superpower things. You wouldn't have to scramble to keep people away from the monitors if you DIDN'T HAVE THE MONITORS.

But yeah, even when the cheese shows through, I get a warm fuzzy sense of nostalgia from it. Tough to admit how much 90s kids' science fiction made my imagination what it is today.**

It still doesn't beat the hair from Space Cases, though. By god, I WILL have Jewel Staite's rainbow hair someday.


*The hair, for example. Oh, god. The HAIR.

**Almost as hard as admitting how much of my sense of fantasy has been influenced by a SNES game that requires you to battle a giant evil wedding cake. Super Mario RPG: great game, or the GREATEST game?
bloodyrosemccoy: (ABCDEF Cookie Monster)
Oh, my god. Scott Lynch gives us a brilliant summation of an excellent classic Sesame Street special: Against Big Bird, The Gods Themselves Contend In Vain.

My old library had a battered VHS copy of Don’t Eat The Pictures back in the day, and I swear we checked that shit out ALL THE TIME. It was awesome: as Lynch points out, we get to watch Big Bird aid a soul on its way to the afterlife and plead its case to the gods,* a thing that made complete sense to me at the time because OF COURSE Big Bird will defy the gods for you.** But he failed to mention the part where Cookie Monster teaches us that you should enjoy art with your eyes, by which I mean his shoulder angels have to admonish him to refrain from eating not only the priceless works of art in the museum, but also the MUMMIES.*** Yes, Cookie Monster has a crisis of conscience about whether he should eat the dried corpses of Ancient Egyptian pharaohs.

Tell me, when does Dora the Explorer ever deal with the real issues like this?


*Or, in small child terms, help a little kid find his parents again. These are the important things.

**Incidentally, I would like to submit that Carroll Spinney is one of the most badass actors on TV. Dude has spent forty goddamn years acting virtually blind inside a giant pressure cooker, he can motherfuckin' ROLLER SKATE while wearing giant three-toed foam feet, and somehow he manages to hide that Big Bird has a nonfunctioning right arm pretty effectively--took me years to notice. Also, he himself probably has a right arm like a California redwood. Or maybe an anaconda.

***Actual line from title song: “Mummy look yummy, but not for tummy!”

Flashback

Nov. 24th, 2011 07:44 pm
bloodyrosemccoy: (Kenya!)
I can never get through a Thanksgiving anymore without thinking of the one in Mombasa, where it was only acknowledged by us exchange students with a forlorn feast of chocolate chip pancake/cookie hybrids. It was a hell of a weekend, though, what with the Chinese food, Ice Cream And Live Jazz Night, the bad news about a friend, the goat slaughter, and the barfight. I have yet to top that for complete batshittery.

(For the record, the actual bat shit was to be found on Halloween in Tanzania. Cave touring can be hazardous. I was a bit worried that the part where I tripped and caught myself and scraped my hand was going to get me some bat-borne diseases, but so far I’m fine. I guess the malaria was enough.)
bloodyrosemccoy: (Relaxin')
To my own bewilderment, I have never, not once, been to Disneyland. Oh, I've been to DisneyWORLD, at the age of nine, and in my conservative opinion it was the GREATEST THING EVER,* but I've never been to the California one.

So my sister has taken it upon herself to fix this sorry situation. Over her fall break next month she and her friend are dragging me to LA, where we will meet my brother for a few days of Disney shenanigans. The bad news is that we have to drive there (I wanted to take the train), but hey, the good news? I'm going to DISNEYLAND.


*Especially since my parents, who at that point had a large chunk of cash to spend, bought into something called the "Grand Plan," an ill-conceived promotional program where you'd spend an exorbitant flat rate for every goddamned thing the entire park had to offer, then spent a week trying to earn a return on it by cramming every amenity, show, character breakfast, parade, and ride in between collecting souvenirs with the fervor of a character in a 90s Rareware game. It was AWESOME.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Peach)
Vocabulary I Learned From Six-Year-Olds

Boss Princess

When playing Princesses in a group, it is important that the leader distinguish herself. Obviously if everyone is a princess nobody outranks anyone, so the Boss Princess title helps eliminate confusion about just who is in charge of this playtime.

If I’d only known this term as a kid. I would have owned my power-grubbing princess pals.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Hobbit Approved)
I have discovered mushroom and cheese pie! MY LIFE IS FULFILLED.

Also, I think I accidentally made Plague Cookies yesterday. I thought I was making a fantastic batch of sugar cookies,* but this morning I woke up with THE PLAGUE. Sore throat, sore eyes, and don’t even ask about the nose. I am just hoping no plague found its way into the delicious cookies.

Off to make tea and see if there’s any mushroom and cheese pie left! I may have the plague, but today, life is good.


*Tragically colorless, however. We will have to get to the store for food coloring for the next batch, because there is nothing more fun than dividing the frosting you’ve made into small bowls and colorizing it. This was just one of the many Early Educational Activities Mom came up with when we were small. Inevitably we would decide to experiment with mixing ALL THE COLORS, resulting in a whole lot of what Dad called “earth-tone cookies.”
bloodyrosemccoy: (Religion)
“When I say I realized I was an atheist when I was a teenager, I’m simplifying things a bit, because I was always an atheist. My big revelation wasn’t so much a realization that I was an atheist as it was a realization that other people weren’t.”

This quote was brought to you by our discussions of churchgoing at work. My coworker was totally cool with my being an atheist, because he’s one too, but he was also puzzled by the idea that I had been raised that way. Who knew atheism could be the default setting?

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