My latest obsession

I went with some friends to see Only Lovers Left Alive. I hadn’t heard or seen anything about it, so I went on the strength of the cast coupled with the whole “It’s an art film” thing. The music is intense and it’s nothing like any vampire film I’ve seen.

Recommended, with some caveats.

1) The film is visually beautiful and musically intense, in a style that almost seems to reflect the art films of the 80s. There are no grand special effects, just beautiful costumes and layered sets where every item you see on-screen has been thoughtfully considered. If you like explosions, you’re not going to find any here.

2) The film starts slow and continues at that pace. The pacing is the important thing. This is not a roller coaster ride. This is an invitation to live in the world the way Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) do, to take a break from your normal zombie experience, running from place to place without ever really noticing any of it, and actually see what’s going on around you. Immerse yourself in the scene.

3) There’s a moral to the story, but I didn’t find it to be heavy-handed within the framework of the movie. Your mileage may vary, but by the time they really got to that point, I was so in to the character’s world that it really felt natural to come to that conclusion.

It’s on limited theatrical release and scheduled for video release in August – when I’ll be buying a copy and binge watching it for a couple of days. That’s how much I loved this film. I wish it had a book, so I could read it right now instead of having to wait until August.

On with the countdown, Casey Kasem. . .

“And for the most part, that message hasn’t changed a lot over the years – love is still love, and heartbreak is still heartbreak.” – Casey Kasem, 1932-2014

I built a radio from a Radio Shack 130-in-One Experimenter Kit so I could listen to you count down the top 40 because my mother wouldn’t let me have a radio, but she’d let me have a learning toy. Thank you for bringing me a wider world of music.

Best. Unintentional birthday present. Ever!

So today I saw this IO9 post leading me to Stephen Pastis’ blog, where I found out I got the best unintentional birthday present ever. I laugh at Pearls Before Swine regularly, but the strips drawn on June 4, 5, and 6 of this year struck right at my heart because they were drawn in part by Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes – my favorite strip of all time.

I know it’s purely coincidence that they ran starting on my birthday, but thank you anyway to both Mr. Pastis and Mr. Watterson for the best unintentional birthday gift ever.

Why I don’t play online games if I don’t know the group

http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20140127

A typical PUG in any game for me. From Ctrl+Alt+Del – JLA: DCUO-style (2014-01-27)

I have friends who can play in Pick-Up Groups (PUGs) and have a great time playing the game with people they just met on online via the Looking For Group Tool. I envy them, for I have no such luck. My old WoW guild went so far said I had a cursed PUG trinket. 

I was a healer. (Okay, I still play healers when I play, but I’m thinking specifically of in WoW.) I had no problem finding groups using the LFG tool, but inevitably I’d find the group with the undergeared tank who named himself Göd and thought he was God, but didn’t know his name would be pronounced gooed and who would rage-quit half way through the first boss fight because the rest of the group “wasn’t good enough for him,” the 10-year-old DPSer who would invariably get called away from the computer by his mom in the middle of a boss fight to go clean his room, and the chick who just plays because her boyfriend plays and really didn’t know how her class worked, and her boyfriend (who was distracted by trying to teach her how to play) – all in the same group.

I took to only using the LFG tool if I could bring along a guild tank and a guild dps in order to minimize the number of slots filled by random people preferably the tank who lives in my house and a reliable mage friend, but any guildies willing to do the job would do – so long as I at least had a guild tank. Guild tanks listen to their guild healers when they say things like “You make meat shield. I make the healies now,” “Pull faster I got you,” or “Ahhg! AAHG! Get it off me. Get it off me.”

I really miss those days. It felt like we had lots of good game time ahead, but in the blink of an eye it was over. My guild effectively died when one of our tanks lost his brother in a tragic accident four years ago. He so strongly associated the game with time with his brother, and I can hardly blame him for not wanting to play any more. It still took the heart and guts out of our guild to lose them both. In less than two months afterward, everyone had moved on.

And my perpetual guild search began. It’s like job hunting to some degree. Search for guilds. Interview them. Try to decide if they’re a good fit for you and if you’re a good fit for them. Are they too serious? Too young? Too heavily into PVP?  Too casual? Do they have too many guild rules? Not enough guild rules? Do they play on the right days? Do they jump games too often?

Inevitably it ends up in failure. Rinse and repeat.

It’s pretty much killed my gaming. I still have a few friends who play, but mostly it’s this thing we pick at from time to time. Nothing seems to stick. There’s no raiding. No progression. No camaraderie from the shared experience of grinding gear, wiping while learning new boss fights or from the one jumpy DPS overagro-ing the boss before the tank can get control. These were the things that made the game worth playing, and without them, there’s no real reason to play.

I miss it all terribly, so I keep looking for a new guild so I can get off the PUG circuit, but I’m afraid I’ll never find what I’m really looking for. I’m looking for my old WoW guild, circa 2008 – 2009, and nostalgia makes that a damned unlikely thing to ever really find again.

My People, My Birthday

Calvin and Hobbes 06/04/1987 (c) Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes 06/04/1987 (c) Bill Watterson

I knew Bill Watterson was one of my people when I first saw the comic above. Originally published on my 18th birthday, it seemed like he knew exactly how it felt trying to be an adult when on the inside you were still just a kid. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be good enough, that people would know I was just faking this whole “grown-up” thing.

The thing is, at 45 I’m still faking it and making this crap up as I go along and no one’s noticed. I think they’re too busy faking it, too. If we’re all just making it up as we go along, I think that makes it okay.

Volga Birthday Dirge

I love this song. It says everything I think about birthdays, set to the appropriate tune. Except when you put it together, it turns out it’s pretty damned hilarious. Why should I be so worried about numbers? No one else is getting younger, so I might as well laugh about it.

I’m here to enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts, and I think that’s about the best you can ask of life.

Workout Wednesday 2/26/2014: Couch to 5K Update

Dear Plantar Faciitis,

You suck so hard. I cannot run at all with you. I must be careful while I’m walking, lest I make you angrier than you already are.

You make me sad. I want to run but I cannot. I should be riding the exercise bike instead of walking, even, but riding the exercise bike is the most hamster thing in the world. I can only do it if I can get the bike with the video game ride on it to take my mind off of the fact that I’m spinning and going nowhere fast. At least it gets my saddle-bones ready for biking season.

You’ve made me take up a kettle-bell routine to try to push myself harder, Faciitis, which is good, I suppose, but now my quads hate me, too. They’re threatening a revolt under the leadership of Bad Knee. My only hope is that continued discipline will whip them into shape and bring that lawless villain  Bad Knee, back under the rule of law. This is all your doing, of course.

I hope you’re proud of yourself Plantar Faciitis. You’ll be singing a new tune when my VIONIC with orthoheel technology inserts arrive. They’ll shut you down in no time.

No love,

Sabrina

How the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer earned my ticket purchase

My roommate sent me the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer on Wednesday and I’ve watched it obsessively since then, trying to map how I went from “Meh” to “Take My Money” on this particular movie, which included a three-hour obsessive loop of the Blue Swede remake of Hooked on a Feeling (which is the famous version, vs. the original BJ Thomas rendition. Yes, I own mp3s of both.)

I wasn’t into this one at all because Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t one of my comics, but they got my attention at the 34 second mark because that’s exactly the reaction I had to the idea of Guardians of the Galaxy in the first place: Who?

Green chick at .56 didn’t hurt because green chicks (for reasons that should be obvious for people who know me), but I was still mostly unimpressed because, as I said at .34: Who?.

At the 1.21 through 1.31 mark they made me giggle. I have that machine in my house. It’s so unpredictable you never know when it’s going to go off.

Adding Blue Swede at the 1.33 mark (1.46 for full sound) was pretty much them extending a hand and offering to help me aboard the trip they wanted me to take.

I didn’t actually decide to buy the ticket for that trip until 2.08-2.09. That’s when I knew I was forking over money for the whole ride. What a bunch of a-holes.