Monday, November 23, 2015

Jessica Jones: The Review

Not spoilery, but may be triggery. Gonna talk about AKA Jessica Jones on Netflix.

Here is the thing about Jessica Jones. 

There's no artistry or metaphor, no allegory or subtext in it. I mean, there is, but it all points to the text: that toxic masculinity hurts everyone, that consent matters very much to women and almost never to men, that in our culture men are impervious and always believed while women are victimized no matter how "strong" they are, that abusers more often get believed than the abused, that you can't trust the cops, and that people, all kinds of people everywhere, are fucked up and hurt each other and support each other and hopefully we can all live with ourselves and our choices at the end of the day.

It's incredibly noir. Not in the sense of the common understanding of "noir" to be black-and-white, but rather in the classical sense of the movies (and especially the books): that every person lives their lives in the shadows and grey spaces that fill our every waking moment, and that truly "good" choices often don't exist, or are at least extremely rare, and almost always come with a tremendous cost. 

It plays with the tropes of noir, too, often straight up with no twist or softening: the drunken PI with a dark past and a terrible regret, the young dame in need of assistance, the shadowy dark player, the untrustworthy law enforcement, the long-suffering assistant, the shady lawyer with a silver tongue and a copper-washed soul... heck, even the sultry love interest with a tragic story. Now that I think about it, there's even a macguffin! 


It's not perfect. But damned if it isn't extremely well-written and well-cast. It was fantastically difficult to watch, and I loved it, and I'll probably watch it again when I get a chance, and have recovered a bit from my first watching. 

You should probably watch it too. But beware: Jessica Jones is strong, and she doesn't like to pull her punches. 

She's available now on Netflix.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Better Living Through Chemistry

The only way I can manage to even function as a semi-reasonable human being in situations like Blizzcon is because of alprazolam. It's the generic form of Xanax, and often even just a quarter of a pill will allow me to not have a panic attack or a total freakout when surrounded by people who can't seem to figure out where they're going and feel it's appropriate to stop at random times and places without regard to anyone else including the bloody bastards following them. Or, y'know, things like that.

Having a couple of pills in my purse means that sometimes, I don't even have to take it; just knowing it's there allows me to manage the anxiety well enough (though, I will say, not at Blizzcon; at Blizzcon I'm taking half a tab in the morning and half a tab in the afternoon and even then I have to manage my exposure pretty consciously). That said, I love to see my friends, so I'm willing to take the pills and make the effort.

On the one hand, it's a little weird that in order to have fun with my friends somewhere, I have to drug myself. But on the other hand, not having to manage the stress and fear in other, probably less-healthy ways is a real positive mark.

Plus, as an added benefit of the medicine, I'm sleeping like a fucking rock.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Pre-Blizzcon Report

After a slight delay in our flight, we arrived in Anaheim and secured our badges and bags for Blizzcon. We also went to the pre-party, saw some friends, and had some drinks.

Travelling, crowds, and uncertainty all combined to make it a very stressful day and thus, I am exhausted in this tiny, slightly run-down bed in a hotel with terrible wifi and grody rooms. But hey, I'm at Blizzcon!

We'll see if I do more of this tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Digital Life

I have friends, good friends, that (before my current job) I spent time with every week, and enjoyed their company and shared their lives, and only saw once a year for a couple of days in person. I have friends that I consider close, personal, intimate friends that I interact with on a regular basis that I haven't seen in years. I have, in short, a modern distributed social circle that closely resembles the current experience of many people of my generation (and younger).

When I read an article or hear a pundit moaning about the "impersonal" or "virtual" lives that some people live these days, wondering why they don't just put down their phones and talk to someone, I have to admit I question how these people live. If I'm using my phone, I probably am talking to someone -- though it's possible the conversation may be asynchronous -- about my day, or their day, or the recent political election in Canada, or the news out of Saudi Arabia, or the weather in Chennai, because my friends live in Canada, and the Middle East, and India, so these are things that directly affect them.

I see my friends posting selfies and I am so incredibly happy about it, because it's not an issue of vanity or some other misassigned put-down from an old grumpy white dude, but because it's a sign that my friends are alive and, if not well, at least willing to share their current experience. I'm glad people post selfies. It's a declaration that they are refusing to be erased, and I'm doing my best to make sure that these people are witnessed in their existence.

I use social media and texting and email and blogging as a way to maintain and expand my social experience in the world, and as a result I am not entirely surrounded by people who look and talk and think like me, which is a very, very good thing. And so I'm excited to go and see my friends and eat sushi and make obscure inside-baseball jokes about "threat" and "damage per second" and drink good booze and play good games with them, because I live my life in many ways, some of which involve me behind a keyboard.

Anyway, that's what I'm doing with my weekend.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Time Off

Tomorrow afternoon I start my vacation from work. We're heading to BlizzCon 2015 and then Disneyland, and I'm really looking forward to seeing in person a bunch of people I haven't seen in ages. And I'm very much looking forward to not thinking about work.

Work is one of those things that I have trouble putting away, because often the most difficult part of work for me is not the actual work, but the acknowledgement that others (usually my bosses) make decisions with given factors that result in outcomes that are not always my preferred outcome. It's Not My Raid has become a significant mantra; not because things are necessarily "wrong", but often because there are pressures or forces of which I am either not aware or feel should be prioritized differently. But I'm not the boss; I'm a team member, not a team lead. And that means that getting worked up about stuff is likely at best counterproductive and at worst is harming both my own reputation and the reputation of my team. So I'm trying to take my partner's advice and recognize when it's time to let go.

So starting on Wednesday evening I'm stepping entirely away from work, and I'm determined to just pretend it doesn't even exist while I'm off doing my fun stuff with friends in Southern California. I even built a little time into the schedule after we get home to be Not Working. Getting recharged and revitalized for the Holiday Season is going to be a Thing What Needs Doing, because while *AAS tools aren't often seasonal, you bet your bippy that many companies who use *AAS tools in fact are.

So here's hoping the world doesn't blow up tomorrow afternoon, because tomorrow evening I'm taking some Time Off.

Monday, November 02, 2015

To Boldly Go

Since CBS just announced that there's another Star Trek series in the works, I'll take a moment or two to put my particular thoughts about Star Trek as a franchise and as a headcanon in one place so that I can just refer to this rather than trying to remember what I need to type out whenever the Star Trek discussion comes up again in some thread somewhere.

Here's what I think the perfect Star Trek show is about: cooperation in the face of cruelty, diversity as a given rather than some sort of quota or question, diplomacy as a powerful solution, and violence as both a last resort and an acknowledgement of failure. I want to see, basically, The West Wing in space, where fantastically intelligent people from radically different backgrounds are fighting with all of their brains to prevent terrible things from happening by talking very, very fast and using extremely big words, all of which are currently available in a dictionary.

I have a personal belief, based on my experience mostly with the Star Trek Online game, that the various bits and pieces of information about Starfleet are effectively all hogwash and propaganda -- that Starfleet isn't the cremé-de-la-cremé as Krugman et. al. profess, but rather it's a makework jobs program for the misfits and the weirdos. Basically, in STO, since the given player's skill level is unpredictable, the lived experience at that point is that anyone who wants to be in Starfleet gets to be in Starfleet, regardless of their actual skill level or aptitudes. We even see a little of that confirmed in canonical sources like DS9, where some of Chief O'Brien's staff are not exactly the "best and the brightest" (or, for that matter, some of the non-coms even on the Enterprise in TNG aren't exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer).

Note that I actually like this model of Starfleet / UFP. Basically, the idea being that if you just want it hard enough, the bureaucracy will find a place for you, and will do their best to utilize whatever skills and interests you are interested and invested in bringing to bear. A true meritocracy, where what matters most is a willingness to try and a commitment to being part of something greater than oneself.

That's the story I want to see told, the series I want to see filmed: that people (of whatever shape, size, or system), working with will and commitment, can build something amazing and lasting and sometimes galaxy-changing. Together.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Testing The Time Travel Technique

Since I'm never, ever actually going to do NaNoWriMo (mostly because I can never figure out how to either make things happen or how to end things), I thought I might try NaNoBlogMo, and do one post a day for the month.

If I can do a little time-travel cheating, that is; I guess we'll see if this actually shows up as publishing on the 1st?