(God dammit, I still haven't found that mosquito but I totally just got bit by a flea. How did it even get in here???)
I'm most comfortable talking about movies on a narrative and writing level, because that's kind of where my competencies live, but any attempt to explain why Paranorman is so good demands that one range further afield, into areas where I'm not positive I really speak the language. But anyway: the cinematic craftwork, the animation, and the acting are all just really good. Impossibly good.
One thing that kept striking me both times I saw it was how well observed everything was. We had this back and forth outside the theater about real vs. better-than-real, and what I eventually decided was that the animation and design let the audience see the world the way a skilled artist sees it, giving us the illusion of a superhuman power of observation — not just including small details like the way a discarded flyer flutters against a cyclone fence, and not really forcing them on us either (like that fucking scene from American Beauty), but making it feel like we're discovering them ourselves and letting us feel kind of awesome for having done so. I think this is the thing I was grasping after when I was trying to talk about No Country For Old Men about four years back — not mere superhuman observation, but effectively showing you what it feels like to be a superhuman observer.
And in a related vein, I think the animation makes a more or less irrefutable argument for why one would bother with stop-motion in the age of CG. There were several shots where what should have been impossible was instead just brutally grindingly difficult.
Okay, anyway, I don't want to go on forever about the thing. But I do also want to mention how good the acting was and what a good actual horror story it was. About the latter, I think all I said last time was that the lightning witch at the end was legitimately scary, but thinking again, the whole situation is legitimately scary. This is kind of the big switcheroo vs. the movie as-advertised, and is partially obscured by the zombie slapstick, but the bones of the story are actually closest to The Ring, or maybe Stephen King at his rare best. The movie underneath the movie comes out in Norman's "How could you?!" and "They were men like you and they were scared and they did something unforgivable." And then it takes over the surface movie completely at the lightning witch sequence, as soon as we can hear what's left of Aggie's real voice. My point is, it's a familiar horror story, but we're coming at it from the wrong angle of approach and the real scary gets to hide underneath a fake scary for a while, and that's pretty cool.
As for the acting, I simply point to that awkward-but-chill back-and-forth between Norman and Neil about throwing the stick. And the lightning witch sequence, again, of course.
There's a game called Cave Story, I was obsessed with it, and I still play parts of it several times a week as a sort of electronic cigarette break. But not, like, playing a whole area through or anything. More like, go into the falling blocks room in the hell level and make as many back-and-forth trips as you can with only the fireball and the bubbler until you die. I dunno, it's completely stupid, but I love it. It's relaxing. (This sort of thing only works with games where the controls are super tight, by the way, so that you're exactly as good as your reflexes. If it doesn't present the illusion that you could do it literally perfectly if you were only good enough — while staying hard enough that you'll never get there — then it's not any fun.)
Anyway, I made up a new game-on-top-of-the-game the other week, and I call it "Mountain of Blondes." Because the re-release has a challenge mode with a boss that throws clones of Curly at you, and if you get it down to a third of its health, the number of clones in each drop will keep doubling every time. And their bodies don't go away, so you can try try to completely carpet the room before you die!
"Egregious" also means "about $25." At least I didn't spring for Chemex? I realize you can get one of the single-cup ones for $4, but man, I just really really hate plastic. It absorbs rancid oils, it's impossible to get clean, and I really don't think I need more phthalates in my diet. Also, the ginormitude of this guy means I can finally make coffee for more than two people at a time.
ANYWAY, my coffee immediately got like a dozen times better, and it turns out it's not actually that hard to use. Hurray!
In other news, time to get back to work. The thing is going well, although my original estimate of how much was left is looking a little over-optimistic. The score so far:
- Bonus days spent: 1
- Bonus days remaining: 0
- Days where I just didn't make count: 2 (1000 and 750 out of 1666)
- Days where I sorta cheated by counting plot hash-out and re-outlining toward the quota: 1
I'm nine and a half chapters ahead of where I was on the 1st, but I'm seeing seven more in the outline. Things have diverged and tightened up a bit, though, so I might be able to cut some contrivances out and shrink it by one.
We'll see how I'm feeling on the 30th, but if there's still a ways to go, I might just keep up this pace until I'm done.
This WEEK, man. You GUYS. You all know I ain't no workaholic, but this weekend looks like a bender. A workahol bender. Yeah.
Crunch time and word quota aside, I did manage to get to the TMBG/Coulton show, which was totally awesome. I haven't seen TMBG since... must have been like 2004 or so. (They were on tour for The Spine at the time.) Not feeling up to a proper concert review, but man, they put on a good show. Some tracks from The Else, some tracks from the new record, some older stuff, and yeah. (CONTROVERSIAL OPINION TIME: Best TMBG album is John Henry, and second best is The Else, with Flood a distant third.)
- I am so glad I switched to Dvorak back in 2008. You've probably heard this from me before, but in summary: the speed boost ended up being basically nonexistant, but the endurance boost has been incredible. I'm not confident that I'd be able to do both dayjob-banzai typing and NaNo banzai typing without it. And the timing of the switch was definitely a good call, since I was doing manual labor and could totally get away with typing like a sloth with a nerve disorder for three weeks.
Oh right, that chair. It's this one:
This chair was in my room when I moved in, which means it's probably Curtis Poe's fault. It's fugly as hell and weirdly short and stubby and also I guess it comes with its own corner?? I originally didn't know what to do with it and it was piled high with laundry more often than not, but then I warmed up to it. It's cushy and lets me put my feet on the ground without any shenanigans, but more than that, it's just a squishy chair of my very own, which is something that'd been missing from my life for a long time before now. (Protip: If you're in your early 20s and moving into your own place for the first time, tell that futon to go to hell and get yourself an actual couch and/or easychair.)
I've got what I'd call a pretty thorough computer setup over at my desk, but for some reason I don't write very well there. Everything is much easier when I'm in my little chair over by the east window. Desks are for editing, apparently, and when I'm writing I'd much rather be close to the ground and tucked into a corner with a wall at my back.
God I love this Bugseed track.
- Protip: The correct time to turn on Freedom is BEFORE you sit down. Like, if you get home and have to pee? Turn on Freedom and set it for 3 hours, then pee.
EDIT: Of course, I totally did not heed that last one tonight. *headdesk* Still made quota, though. (Sort of—I ended up doing like 1400 words of out-loud thinking, plot-detangling, motivation-decoding, outlining for two additional chapters I apparently need to shoehorn in there, and for good measure some details about the contents of a document that Zoe's going to get network-cockblocked before having a chance to read. Won't count toward the eventual total, but it kept my momentum up.)
So the more complete answer is more like, I think I write because my brain is incomplete, and there are thoughts that I can't think until the moment I write them down. My thought process is partially external, and I just can't use the whole of it unless I write.
That's more selfish than a lot of the posts I've seen so far, and it makes me sound kind of deranged to boot, but... SHRUG! You go to war with the fabricated justification you've got, not the fabricated justification you wish you had. ...No, wait.
Also. That Mongol 800 album came up on my iPod on the ride in this morning, and then the fall sunlight was really bright and the whole lot of it together just reminded me of Minneapolis so much it made my chest hurt a bit. I mean, in a good way. You know.
Point being, there was no masturbation involved at any point, and the actual take-away lesson was Thou Shalt Not Exploit Loopholes Like A Bitch, For It Is An Abomination In The Eyes Of The LORD. What the hell? Why does this persist?
I hereby declare this to be Jerk Off, And It's Not Onanism Because At Least You're Not Pulling Out Day.
Seriously, flawless nightmare fuel.
- If you're not reading MSPA: Homestuck yet, the joke's on you. 'Nuff said.
- Spacetrawler — a kickin' sci-fi ensmble rampage that combines everything Baldwin learned from his years doing Bruno, Little Dee, Bad Mile, and those MAD Magazine pieces, plus a few new tricks.
- Modern Fried Snake — I'm still trying to figure out what I think about this one, but it would be a shame for it to fly under the radar.
- Liz Fuckin' Prince is on the internet! If I haven't subjected you to Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed yet, you are missing out.
- The Meek is one of the most technically astonishing serials I've seen in a while. Go and see.
- Buttercup Festival has been back for a while and deserves more love. (It's mostly the more contemplative subspecies these days, but it still occasionally lapses into old-skool absurdity.)
- You've got about a semester left to get with the program on Bobwhite.
- If anyone links you to Oglaf and you happen to be at work, DON'T CLICK.
- The improbably-back-from-the-dead award goes to Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life, which I was surprised to find myself still rather fond of.
- Forming is completely insane. I guarantee you are not ready for it.
- It's got support for lists! I think it's the first Twitter app for Mac that does the list thing and yet doesn't seem misguided and broken on a totally fundamental level. (Nambu's probably the closest behind, but I really can't stand it.)
- Unfortunately, it doesn't expose them flatly the way Twitterrific for iPad does, so you have to drill down every time to get to them. Bogus.
- Not down with this slide-and-stack UI nonsense they've got going on. Honestly, what the hell is supposed to be happening in this metaphor? That this stack keeps getting taller and taller every time I change views makes me nervous, like I'm going to have to clean it all up someday when the pile tips over and gets all over the foyer. I am only 30% joking, here.
- On the other hand, I thought the Twitter for iPad UI was godawful at first, but they improved it pretty dramatically in the minor updates. Maybe they'll make it more spatially coherent in a month or three.
- I've gotten used to Itsy's inline images, which make TfM's popups seem rather outdated in comparison.
- Ha—when I unplugged my monitor, the window stayed taller than my MacBook's screen; now it won't auto-shrink, and there's no way to grab the resize control. Enjoy the land beyond the bottom of the screen, little window! Go where no man has gone before!
- Hmm, the keyboard shortcuts seem pretty rich. That's nice.
- It's still got the ability to do multiple tweet windows, which was always nice to have when I needed it. Does any other app else do that, or is that still Tweetie-only?
- But DO NOT WANT tweet windows that hover over the top of everything. Eew. I understand the problem they were trying to solve, but I disapprove. I'd prefer that they come to the fore whenever any Twitter window was active but act like normal windows the rest of the time.
- It's still tough to tell whether the main window is active, but that's less annoying than it was when it looked like it should dim the way normal Leopard/Snow Leopard windows do.
- Feels pretty fast!
- I can't remember: Was there ever any actual apology for that debacle where MacHeist and Atebits sold vaporware sneak peeks of Tweetie 2 and basically never delivered? *checks* Hahaha—looks like there's this, and also that, for whatever those're worth.
So yeah anyway I guess I'm a lizard now, call me if you gots extra crickets or something.