Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

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It’s Relevant. We’re talking about it.

That’s right.

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The Prequel That Shall Not Be Named

The Phantom Menace is relevant right now 20 years after it’s original release.

I loved it. I consumed it. I collected it. I was 12 years old. More on that later.

Right now, you get to read a rambling third of my history with Star Wars.

I don’t remember how old I was, but my first memory of Star Wars was watching the sarlacc pit scene of Return of the Jedi on cable on the basement TV (it was a Zenith.) My dad caught me watching and asked, “Do you like this?”

I said yes.

He disappeared in the closet for a few minutes and came back out with the VHS three pack. “Here. Start with the first one.”

Episode I: The Obsession Rises. I was not in control of my own finances, so I didn’t have complete autonomy on how my consumption progressed. My father was supportive, however. Boba Fett was the first action figure I got. The second was a cereal box mail-in stormtrooper with removable helmet to reveal Han Solo underneath. A cascade of toys followed.

Then, the mother lode.

Rebel Assault. 220px-swrebel1Not only did I get to live through the Star Wars universe, I got to blow up the Death Star. I played the game so much, I wore it out. Ask anyone if they remember Commander Ru Murleen and if they don’t have a television-style flashback, they don’t know this game.

My father was an early adapter of Apple products. My first PC was in college. We were only allowed education games, for the most part (your Mathblasters, Super Solvers, Carmen Sandiegos, and Swamp Gas Visits the United States of America.) This was the first game-game I had. He followed it up with Rebel Assault II and TIE Fighter because all other X-Wing franchise games weren’t available for Mac.

There’s so much more. Star Wars introduced me to the adult section of the library, it got me into video-editing. Star Wars launched me to a level of curiosity in media that you can only get once in a lifetime.

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for:

The Phantom Menace

I was 12.

Middle school.

Blue iMacs in the computer lab.

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A grassy hill. The slow roll of the tanks. I memorized that trailer.

“I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war.”

(I’m now informed that this was the second trailer, but it’s the one I remember getting on the school computer.)

It was me and one other kid, before YouTube, breaking through firewalls to get the trailer. So many broken links.

There was so much joy, so much excitement. I collected all the Pepsi cans. I read the book. I knew more about the movie before I saw it. I was young and not jaded.starwarspepsi

The movie itself:

The lightsaber fights against the droids. Amazing. Qui-Gon using his lightsaber to melt through the blast shield. A dream come true. The thrill of watching a fast-paced lightsaber battle, the thrill of two Jedi fighting one Sith with a double-bladed saber at the speed and intensity they were going was awesome to behold. What did this mean for lightsaber battles in the future?

R2D2’s origin story. I loved that he was able to complete the job while all the other droids got blasted off. And, the queen recognized him for his (its?) service. Even if it was a decoy at that point, I still thought the gesture was important.

Jedi using the Force like they used the Force in the video games. Force jump, Force speed, holding their breath for extended periods of time. It was thrilling to see Jedi masters finally doing what I knew they could.

I didn’t mind Jar Jar. I’m sure on some level he was annoying. I didn’t want his toy. He was essentially a useless character, a Forrest Gump who bumbled his way through much more important events.

The podrace was thrilling. Seeing Jabba’s stranglehold on Tatooine seemed to clear something up in my mind. Tatooine was basically immune from the influence of both Republic and Empire both.  Having read the book, I knew that humans could not race pods. The only reason Anakin could was because of his connection to the Force. He used the Force to survive. I liked that Watto could resist the Jedi mind trick, because Jabba could, too. Scum and villainy, remember.

Seeing so many Jedi was amazing.

For me, Qui-Gon’s and Obi-Wan’s battle with Darth Maul and Amidala re-taking the castle were the best parts.

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We owned this razor and I definitely noticed

I think I got a lot of the toys before the movie came out, but that’s more hazy. I had the oversized Gillette razor communicator that played the soundbite chips that came with each action figure. I loved the Battle Droids. I loved the “roger, roger” soundbite the best. I loved my droid on his Stap the best. I loved Star Wars. And, my love for Star Wars extended to The Phantom Menace. It was finally a new entry into the world that wasn’t a computer game, wasn’t a book, it was finally something that everyone would share with me. They would get back into the universe. It would be relevant to everyone, not just me, and that’s what mattered.

At the end of the day, I enjoyed The Phantom Menace. I ignored the things I didn’t like, but, to this day, I still vividly remember the things I liked about it. Maybe it was made for kids, maybe it wasn’t. Nothing can take away my joy and excitement I got from it.

An elegant emotion for a more civilized age.

Also, if my aunt is reading this, I don’t apologize for making you do Darth Maul make-up on my face more times than I remember. I do, however, want you to realize that I remember and it still means a lot to me.

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The Twist that No One Asked For

You guys know there’s a Robin Hood movie coming out this year, right? Because there was a Robin Hood movie out almost 16 minutes ago and God help us if we go 15 minutes without rehashing the same old, same old.

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Hash me once, shame on you. Hash me twice…

Every time we get a new version of a beloved property, there’s some twist. Like, Sherlock, but modern! Sherlock, but steampunk! Sherlock, but Watson’s a girl! Sherlock, but Sherlock’s a girl…STOP! Bridge too far!

From what I can tell, this new Robin Hood is like Ocean’s 11, but with arrows, I guess? I mean, there’s a big casino scene in the trailer and extended training sequences and Jamie Foxx dodging arrows like it’s The Matrix and…I’m tired. I’m just going to make popcorn at home and take a nap.

Hey! You guys know there are 6 Joker movies in development? We’re rehashing fresh hash! How many times are we going to see Bruce Wayne’s parents die in movies that are supposed to be about tangential characters? Putting my bet in for at least 3.

The Mummy, but the mummy’s a girl!

Superman, but he’s dark and brooding!

King Arthur, but he’s in a biker gang!

Instead of whining about the nonsense, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring. It’s time to make MY remakes, Hollywood.

Here are my pitches:

  1. Sherlock IS Watson

For this one, Sherlock is just a normal, crazy opioid addict. But, being on drugs has given him a dissociative identity disorder. When he’s on morphine, he’s the crime solving Sherlock we all know and love. When he’s sober, he’s the more sound-of-mind, but less brilliant Watson, a disgraced doctor who got addicted to opioids when he was a practicing physician. When he’s on meth, he’s Moriarty, setting up puzzles for his morphined self. He’s also the police commissioner, his own housekeeper, the lead violin virtuoso of the London Philharmonic, his own love interest, somehow, and Nexton Wingnut, that new character in Star Wars. We’ll figure that out later.

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The hat is a lie.

2. Robin Hood in a modern setting

I know what you’re thinking:

“Kate, if we put Robin Hood in a modern setting, isn’t that just Green Arrow?”

No, it’s not.

“Yes, put a lot of the vigilantism performed by Green Arrow has parallels to Robin Hood. And, the main thing about Robin Hood is that he wears a hood and shoots arrows. That’s Green Arrow.”

No, it’s not.

“But, the show Arrow has gone to great lengths to build up Arrow’s support team as a modern version of the Merry Men, so you wouldn’t be able to differentiate between Arrow and a modern retelling of Robin Hood.”

Yes, we would.

“Fine. How is is different?”

Ours will be called Robin Hood.

3. King Arthur

But, he’s a time traveler. The once and future king. Get it? Also, maybe he’s a woman. Or has dissociative identity disorder and is also Lancelot.

4. Beauty and the Beast

A CGI remake of the live action remake of the animated film where we try to fix the problems in the live action movie that arose when we tried to fix what we thought were problems in the animated movie, but weren’t so much plot holes as nitpicking people with blogs and YouTube channels (she said unironically).

5. Romeo and Juliet

In most of the movie adaptations for Romeo & Juliet, they sort of gloss over the part where Romeo is being all broody about Rosaline. Who’s Rosaline, you may ask, because she’s never in any of the movies.

Rosaline is the teenage chick that Romeo is desperately in love with at the beginning of the play. Yes. That’s right. Romeo is all love sick puppy because he’s got the hots for Roz, but she doesn’t love him back. He is a horny teenager.

My belief is that Romeo & Juliet is not just the first (recorded?) melodramatic young adult romance, it is also the first (recorded?) farce of a melodramatic young adult romance. It’s not just the first Twilight, it’s the first Twilight parody.

Do a modern language retelling of Romeo & Juliet, but have Mercutio be much more obvious with his commentary about how dumb it is for Romeo to think he’s going to marry the first girl he meets in high school, especially after he just got over his summer camp romance.

Wait, did I just write Grease? Is Grease secretly Romeo & Juliet?

No.

Yes.

No.

Maybe?


What’s happening on dating apps and why don’t I understand it

Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook knows I make a lot of jokes about dating apps and the things I encounter there. I am single. Were I to get into a relationship that ended with me deactivating my dating app subscriptions, I would have significantly less comedic material for social media.

That being said, here are some trends on dating apps that I would like someone to explain to me. I have added my own explanations from deep within my own mind, but feel free to comment with your own interpretation.

1. The tiger picture

Guys like to take picture with tigers. They probably think it makes them look dangerous.

My assumption: you are at some zoo event where they let you have a close encounter.

Better option: Take a picture of yourself holding a Starbucks cup without the sleeve. Caution: contents may be hot? I don’t care. I like to live on the edge.3a5

2. The mirror shot

These poor souls don’t have any friends who can hold their cameras for them to take a picture. But, there are so many mirror shots on dating apps, I’m starting to think it’s something else entirely.

My assumption: Mirror seeks like-minded individual to reflect with. Why are so many mirrors lonely? What do they see in themselves?

Better option: Clean your mirror and bathroom before you take a picture of it. Just saying…

3. All your pictures are of you outdoors

My assumption:  I assume you’re homeless.

Better option: Take a few pictures inside. Pretend you have a couch that you sit on every once in awhile. I’m an indoor cat. We’re not going to have a good time if all you want to do is hike. Prove your human and have a roof over your head.

4. Same shirt

My assumption: you only have one shirt

Better option: have more than one shirt

5. Same hat

My assumption: you only have one hat or you are bald

Better option: prove you have more than one hat or hair

6. Headless torso looking for love

There’s this tendency (and usually it’s a mirror picture) to hold the phone in front of your face while you take a picture in the mirror, thus making the face invisible.

My assumption: you have no face. You’re just a headless torso looking for love. And, unless you’re trying to make a matching in Sleepy Hollow, it’s a little weird.

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Let’s goooo for coffeeeeee…but only pumpkin spice.

Better option: have some pictures with your face in them

And, last, but not least:

7. The Entrepreneur

Most dating apps want you to list your job. Sometimes, especially in Hollywood, you can’t say what you do because you signed a non-disclosure or your an agent who will only get unsolicited material if you tell people that on any kind of social platform.

Then, there’s the guy that puts entrepreneur.

My assumption: You are unemployed.

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Better option: Look. For five years, I worked for a COMPANY that helped entrepreneurs and small businesses. After 5 years, I realized that, while entrepreneur might be a state of mind, it’s not a job. If you are a founder of a company, that’s a job. If you’re a CEO, CFO, COO of a company you helped create, that’s a job. Entrepreneur…you aren’t allowed to get away with that. So, dig deep in your brain and come up with something that is an actual occupation or just leave that part blank.

Life is hard. Dating is difficult. We are all just groping in the void trying to make some kind of connection in a world that cares nothing for our happiness.

Don’t make it harder on yourself.

But, I guess if being a headless torso looking for love works for you, don’t fix what ain’t broke.


Hey Now, You’re Two Princes. Just go ahead now. Go play.

Awhile ago, I posted on Facebook a joke that wasn’t a joke.

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Like, raindrops on roses…or whiskers on kittens?

It says hipsters. But, it almost feels like it should say “millennials.” Let’s all sit here and stew in whether or not those are two different things…

Before I spin off into a discussion about why you shouldn’t trust anything a hipster says about existential philosophers, let’s change course.

Last weekend, I…DID..A…THING!

That’s right, people. I actually left the house. It’s sort of a big deal. I don’t like going places. I prefer staying with my cats. I have hint of agoraphobia that manifests itself as a constant worry of whether or not I locked the door when I left. I’d rather just not leave the house.

But, I did.

I went to a free concert. (Fill in your own tangent about how many free things there are to do in LA)

The concert was part of the 2018 Pershing Square Summer Concert Series. Other acts over the course of the summer included The Bangles, Pat Benatar, and the concert I went to: Spin Doctors and Smash Mouth.

I didn’t consider myself a big fan of either of those bands. I’m one of those on the outskirts yelling, “Play the one song we all know!” because that’s the one that got them on the radio. And, of course, we all know the Smash Mouth song from Shrek (which is really the Smash Mouth song from Mystery Men, but I digress). I rolled into the venue, had my one overpriced Blue Moon, sat on one of the park’s retaining walls, and grooved on late 90’s/early 00’s rock surrounded by downtown LA skyscrapers while planes drifted overhead on their way to the airport.

I took one 10 second video.

When I sent that video to a sibling, he told me that people only pay to see Smash Mouth concerts sarcastically.

First, is he right?

I have no way to prove this. Maybe he’s just being sarcastic about people being sarcastic? The only problem is that it sounds reasonable. There’s always a chance that he’s wrong.

Second, maybe he is right?

Back in the early ’10s, there was this wave of hipsters liking things “ironically.” They would say they were wearing a Chip and Dale t-shirt ironically. They went to screenings of Back to the Future ironically. They only liked certain bands ironically.
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Before you think I’m making this up, I’m at least 95% sure I’ve heard someone say this in real life. But, I live in Hollywood, so that’s the sort of person I overhear.

Third, if he is right, why? Why don’t hipsters simply like what they like?

I loved Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. Want me to sing the song for you? I’ll do it.

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Some times some crimes go slippin’ through the cracks

I love Back to the Future.

And, I didn’t realize when I decided to go to the concert, Smash Mouth was sort of KoRn Lite when I was younger. I liked KoRn, but they had that parental advisory barrier-to-entry sticker on it. Smash Mouth was a little safer, a bit more accessible, but not as sticky-sweet pop as Britney Spears and Nsync. I knew more of their songs than I thought I did. And, they leaned into their hits with the expectation of audience participation.

I think there is a fear that, if we like something, we will be criticized for enjoying it. To protect ourselves from that criticism, we say we like something, gauge the reaction, and, if someone else doesn’t respond the way we want, we immediately pull it back.

That’s dumb.

I judge you for judging me judging you based on something you have judged for yourself.

It says more about a person if they can only enjoy something because other people like it, too.

Be unapologetic. Like what you like. Don’t waste time liking something because people tell you that you should.

If that were the case, I would consider Batman Begins a good movie and would acknowledge that Ed Sheeran is famous.

I refuse.

What do you unapologetically like? What have you been mocked for liking? Also, is Nickelback bad or do I just think they’re bad because everyone says they are?


The Dig

Whenever I clean out my refrigerator, it’s a combination archaeological and anthropological endeavor. It’s not just a deep dig into grocery products past, but a dive into a bygone era, when decisions were made with unremembered logic.

1. Research and evidence must be collected and presented to the Board of the Superego to fund the refrigerator project.

I don’t like cleaning out my fridge.

I don’t like cleaning. I don’t like spraying and wiping down. I don’t like vacuuming. I do like walking around in my bare feet. Those last two things don’t play well together.

Anyway, on this particular occasion, the Board was presented with a gift that needed to be seated within the refrigerator. The only problem was, the item in question (see image) was too tall to live within the confines of the current shelf setup of the refrigerator.

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The Board considered and came to the unanimous conclusion that one shelf shall be removed and I would have to make due with two shelves instead of one rather than actually take the time to clean out the fridge.

After wrestling the shelf out, life continued as normal. Which brings us to the second step of the project.

2. The Board realizes its error

Even if you are only one person, you cannot live with just two shelves in the refrigerator. The time has come. The Board is unanimous. The shelf must be reinstalled at a higher level if we are to operate normally within the universe of the apartment.

They funded an exploratory committee.

Adjusting refrigerator shelves is a delicate and complicated process. One must consider what they intend to place on the shelves before placing them three inches apart. Does the egg carton fit on that narrow space? Yes. Can the string cheese be tetrised in? Yes.

Operation Wire Shelf is a go.

3. The exploratory committee explores

The space that the refrigerator lives in is not large enough to open the door completely. This is normally not a problem, as you don’t really need to open the door the entire way to grab the things you need. But, you do need to open the door the entire way to install shelves.

Through a complicated bit of wrestling, we now have a refrigerator that will open wide enough to allow for the shelf to be replaced. 451

As long as there is no shelf above it.

4. You do what you should have done a long time ago.

You empty the fridge.

The first big find of the excavation was an unopened jar of Welch’s grape jam. The popping metal lid has yet to be unpopped.

I have no idea when I bought this. I also don’t know how long jam lasts, opened or otherwise. And, as I sit here typing this, I’m not even sure Welch’s sells jam in these kinds of containers anymore. How long has this been here?

The second find was a half-empty (half-full?) bottle of Kung Pao sauce. Whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, it doesn’t really matter, as it expired two years ago. Yes, I had Kung Pao sauce that expired in 2016. I’ve had that longer than one of my cats.

Why did I need Kung Pao sauce? I can’t remember ever using it, even though it is half-empfullty. But, at the time, I must have been very excited for whatever Kung Pao concoction I was making.

Don’t worry. There are cool things, too. Like that bottle of water I got from the Iron Man 3 set.

Last, I found a large jar of ground Kroger brand medium roast coffee.

Ah, I know when I must have bought this. It was a simpler time, when I was unemployed and buying in bulk. It was before I became an adult and bought a grown-up coffee grinder. Poor Kroger brand. You didn’t even bother to give your coffee a fancy name, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Caffeine or Don’t Worry, It Still Brews Up In Tears.

5. Carefully dispose of the evidence.

6. Enjoy your new shelf.

My new shelf does not have very wide clearance, so I have chosen to call it the “Cheese Shelf.” It is where the cheese sits. And, it was worth the effort.

As I sit here, drinking a cup of steaming Kroger Medium, I wonder what my refrigerator would say if it could talk. Maybe something like,

“This Kung Pao sauce has a funk to it that needs to be addressed.”

Or:

“This glass pitcher is completely empty. I refuse to chill it unless it is filled with something.”

And, I’m thankful for my talking refrigerator. Because at least it’s not a SubZero. Those are just so frosty and judgmental.


How Spoiler Alert Culture is Ruining Everything

Spoiler alert, I guess? I mean, I might be spoiling things in this post, but the whole point of this post is to explain why saying spoiler alert is stupid, so keep reading at your own…risk?

I am a nerd. Obviously. I am also a huge fan of SHIELD and Agent Carter. There is a certain website, that will remain nameless, that has been reviewing this season of Agent Carter. Side bar: this season of Agent Carter has been fun and amazing. If you haven’t been watching, you should.

The reviews, however, have been troublesome. Peggy Carter will eventually be one of the founders of SHIELD. We know that she is still alive by the time Captain America: Winter Soldier rolls around. We also know that Hydra eventually infiltrates SHIELD. The reviews seem to insinuate that knowing all these things makes Agent Carter less interesting to watch because we know that Peggy Carter will fail in trying to defeat Hydra.

Um…what?

Knowing where the Marvel universe is heading does not diminish the enjoyment I get from the show. Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy have wonderful chemistry. The late ’40s early ’50s vibe is crushing it. I don’t really care about what will happen in the future; I still enjoy the hell out of what Peggy is doing in this season.

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You know, kids, eventually, television will be in color. Gah, spoiler alert, Dad.

This brings me to my point.

We don’t watch things or read things or play games just to see how it ends. If that was the only reason we used any form of entertainment, every book would be one page, every movie, one minute. You don’t get on a roller coaster for the one drop. You want to ride the ride.

Have you read Harry Potter more the once? How many times have you watched Jurassic Park? How many times have you walked through the world of Skyrim?

I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spoil away. The show’s been out for twenty years. It’s my fault that I haven’t ever seen it before. I know the Borg are coming. The Cardassisans. The onset of Deep Space Nine. But, to me, those “spoilers” are small islands on a vast unexplored ocean.

That episode where Picard fights tooth and nail for Data’s humanity. Remember that one? So good, right? It’s like a fresh tropical paradise nestled in a stormy sea of inexplicable holodeck episodes. It’s not necessarily one that people talk about. It’s not one that I had spoiled. But, it’s still important on my journey. And, the earnestness of Captain Picard is not something that can be spoiled. The way LeVar Burton plays Laforge isn’t something you can describe to me.

In some ways, knowing a little about TNG is making it MORE enjoyable. The first time Picard said, “Shut up, Wesley,” I was delighted. There are more of those to come, punk. Just you wait.

He still hasn’t said, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” But you better believe I’m ready for it. And I will be all over the Internet when he does say it.

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I get fat and grow a beard. I basically turn into space Santa.

Here’s what I leave you with:

Spoilers are bullshit. Who cares? Stop acting like knowing the ending changes the journey. Just relax and enjoy the ride. And, if you still don’t like it, you can always get off at the nearest exit.