Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hodgpodge: Some More Catchup

Hi! Back so soon?

Yes, well... It was a really long time between my last post and the one that preceded it, so I have lots of stuff that I have meant to discuss, or at least mention. Here's a quick list, in no particular order:

Speed dating, my most recent Stacy related meltdown, flashback scenes, blogs vs twitter, writing in general, I should move to Boston, XKCD, and some more of my social failings.

I don't know how many of these things i'll get to today, or if I'll ever end up discussing all of them at all.

Let's start with the Stacy thing for today. I forgot to mention it in the last post like I meant to. I'm not going to devote a lot of time to it, because, seriously... I'm pretty pathetic. But I wanted to mention it.

So, I thought that ever since a year ago I had actually moved on. It finally registered fully to me how Stacy had never really treated me particularly well, and sometimes outright poorly and mean. Turns out, I'm okay with all of these things being in the past and have moved on--emotionally if not like... In actuality--but I'm not okay with the idea that Stacy is still... You know... Alive and in existence. Emily mentioned to me that she was the maid of honor at the wedding of a mutual acquaintance and I did not take it well.

So, I afforded myself a day of being mopey and exceptionally unhappy, and that, for the most part, was that. Though since then she has been, most unwelcomelym closer to the forefront of my thoughts.

And that's that. Moving on.

I think XKCD next. Have you seen this comic? I've known it existed for years, but never bothered to look ionto it. Thenh a litt le bit algo there was a Captre the Flag FPS comic from it listed in the Hoystiq Weekly Webcomic Wrapup, and I thought it wuas just really clever. So I started to look at some of the streips by sing the random button, and it contined to be really clever. I've since read throgh all of the archives. Twice.

If you haven't given this strip a look, you should. It's routinely insightful and incredibly smart. It has a lot to say about the way we deal with relationships from time to time... And it's in this vein that I sort of bring it up.

Sometimes there's a strip that's just incredibly sweet, and it gives me a very melancholy/lonely feeling. It's not incredibly easy to find these sorts of strips mixed in with the complex math equations and frequent yor mom jokes, but they're there. And even when there's a your mom joke, it will often be a heel to the setup of some incredibly sweet imagery on the ideals of relationships. I just eat this shit up. Here's a few sample comics: <------- My favorite

The art is, obviously, not the focus. Also, remember to mouseover each comic for the mouseover comment thingy. It's often better than the comic itself.

Alright... Next up is speed dating. I'm thinking of giving it a try. I don't like that i'm thinking of giving it a try. I'd like to think that I can deal with just being alone and waiting for someone to come along who I develop a crush on and then a relationship to mature organically (read: I wear her down into dating me) But it's painfully obvious that this scenario is not coming into fruition with anywhere near the speed to satisfy me. I havena't met anyone new that i've been remotely interested in for like for years now. Maybe five. I lost count.

So, speed dating seems like an... Option, I guess. Except I'm pretty sre it'll just be a waste of time. If for no other reason than the only event I'm aware of has an age limit of 25-35. I'm right at the bottom of that. I don't expect there to be too many girls of my preferred age bracket at one of these things. Emily mentioned a while back that she and Michelle had wanted to do one of these things... Maybe I should ask her about it. Maybe she'd go to one with me. I probably won't bring it up with her though. Also, I think she's currently mad at me. Oh well. Moving on.

Let's do "I should omove to Boston" next. Lior's been bugging me that I should pick up and move up North with him for a few years. I probably should. I'm pretty stagnant down here.

Problem is, it's comfortable here. I think I would be pretty much equally stagnant in Boston, but down here at least the rent is free.

It might be easier to find a job in a sort of office settig that I would prefer in an area like Boston. But, I really don't have the first clue how to effectively look for a job. That wouldn't change drastically by changing location, I don't think.

Also, I don't know that Boston would be the best idea for me. Not that I wouldn't like to be closer to Lior again. Thhat wouyld be nice. Bt moving p to live with Lior I would sort of jutst be adopting his friends instead of being forced ot of my little hole and making some new friends and forging relationships. So, in that respect, maybe a new city where I don't have any ties would be better.

Except I don';t bel'ieve in my ability to meet people and form relationships, which is the whole point, in that sort of situation. I'm sure I would movle to a new city, live off the meager money I have savevd up, not find a job, not make friends, be miserable, and move back home. So, were I to do this, I suppose it should be Boston with Lior.

But, who are we kidding? There's little to no chance of me taking myself up on this.

I think thins one's gonna be the last topic, and I've saved it for last becase, while I wanted to mention all the other things, this is the one I realley actally want to write about. Flashback scenes.

What's up with them lately?

Maybe "lately" is a misleading term. I think going back about a decade now. Maybe 15 years. But still, in the scheme of things it's lately.

A flashback can be a very effective tool in storytelling. While it was incredibly boring, Citizen Kane used the concept of flashback incredibly well. Guy dies, says Rosebud. Why did he say that? Movie attempts to figure it out.

There are some other really good examples of this approach, but none spring to mind immediately. Fight Club was alright, but maybe not incredibly necessary. There's a particular episode of the West Wing where it's used really well. The one where Toby's brother almost dies in space. And lots of other stuff happened too.

Actually, Aaron Sorkin has sed flashback effectively a number of times, now that I think about it. And the way he does it is very remeniscent of the last episode of MASH, which also did a good job of starting at the end with a purpose.

But television shows, particularly I think moreso than movies, have been abusing the shit out of this techniqe. If a story starts at the end, and then flashes back to the beginning before working its way back to the starting point--read: the end-- then there needs to be a damn good reason for it. There needs to be some sort of impetous... Some amont of mystery in that first scene that's staying with th=e viewer throgh the rest of the story until we get back to it and it all comes together.

If the story works just as well when told in linear fashion, then tell it that way.

A lot of the ti me, I think the purpose is to give a story the illsion of complexity where there really isn't any. A scene cshown out of context can be really confsing and leave the viewer with a feeling of "what's going on?"

But then the episode proper will start, and ten mintes minutes after that jarring "X amount of time earlier" screen, there's a story going on that is independent of the opening scene. None of the things that happened need be going through the viewer's mind.

It just frustrates me that this techniqe has been so overdone senselessly. I really like the techniqe, and when sed properly it can aid in telling a really compelling story. And the blatant overuse of it when it's wholly unecessary only serves to weaken the impact it has when used properly.

I want to asay that JJ Abrams is the most egregious practitioner in this. But, while it is very likely true, it's maybe not entirely fair. The stories he tends to be telling (namely Lost and Alias) are just so incredibly convoluted and ridiculous that the added "story being told out of order for no good reason" meme almost has a place.

Heroes does it a lot too, but those guys are Abrams' buddies, so I'm lumping them in with him.

But it's not just shows like that. Regular, non-incredibly-convoluted-more-like-soap-opera shows like Brothers and Sisters overuse the technique as well. How I Met Your Mother is founded on it--sometimes, to be fair, effectively. Sometimes, like that episode a couple weeks ago where the girl with the mbrella turns out to be what's-her-name from Scrbs, obnoxiously.

Actually, to be fair... That was a good use of the technique, in more technical terms. The episode proper really wasn't about the main storyline. It was a cheap way to tell a series of uuninteresting anecdotes. It just annoyed me because it was purposefully and unabashedly jerking the audience around.

Anyway... I think I 've, more or less, eclumsily made my point. Next time you're watching something and it flashes back to some time in the past after the first scene, really pay attention and ask yourself it it was necessary. Chances are, it wasn't.

On a side note, before I stop swriting because my phone battery is dying and I also don't want to write anymore, I was thinki ng of going back and watching all of Lost again from the beginning and recording the major plot points as they happen. I think it would be interesting, if not amusing, to look at a list of the shit that's happened and see what things were dropped completely and such. Aside from that... Ever tried to explain Lost to someone who doesn't watch it? Yeah, you know how that conversation goes. A list of sthe plot points like that would just be ridiculous.

Kim had missed an episode of Lost recently, and I sort of glibly summarized the things that happened in the episode, saying them, admittedly, in as ridiculous a manner as possible. She rolled her eyes at me like I was just making fn of the show. Which I was. But all of the things I said had happened pretty much the way I said them. The show's retarded. So I think presenting this sort of stuff in a master list wold prove hilarious.

Then I realized that in order to do this, I would have to watch Lost from the beginning and really pay attention and stay engaged enough to be recording things as they happen. I wouldn't so much mind watching the series again... It's stupid, but entertaining... I just don't want to have to pay real attention to it. For the most part, that's not how I choose to partake in my video media. I like to lay in ybed and just let shows happen to me withot having to be alert. I often faltl asleep and have to watch things more than once to finish the episode.

Okay... Time to go back inside and post this. If I didn't get to one of the listed topics that I said I was going to, and that was the one you were really looking forward to reading about, chances are I'm not gonna get to it. But ifyou tell me which it is, then I just might tdo it special for you.

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