Sunday, March 31, 2013

'Batman: Arkham' Games and Tentative "Review"

SPOILERS for Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City (although... kinda... like... duh)

I'm a huge Batman fan. I won't go into the long history, but just know that I was watching the old series before the animated one was on TV, and Batman: Returns has been and remains one of my top five favorite films since it was new.

So part of why I was so excited to get my PS3 in November was because I could finally play those Arkham games everyone raves about. I got through the first one not without some difficulty, and on the default difficulty level, but was shocked and slightly appalled that I was barely 60% finished with the game when the final battle with the Joker was over and the credits were finished rolling. This happened because it has a crapton of side challenges in the shape of riddles from Edward Nigma (a.k.a. The Riddler, of course) I had missed/ignored. Also, I seemed to have missed a crapton of documents and stuff along the way, and I guess my fighting wasn't quite good enough to earn all of the upgrades to the Batsuit and combat skills. Which okay, I get that. But I guess it kind of pissed me off because it let me see the end credits with over 1/3 of the game incomplete. And while I'm all for replaying good games (and this is definitely one worth replaying), I'm also for, you know, finishing them. The fact that I even missed those documents and skills had me a little angry, too- where the Hell were those pieces of paper and interview recordings at- I thought I had explored every room pretty gorram thoroughly, after all. 

But still, I loved the game. I had fun the entire time, even when there were parts on which I was stuck. I especially loved doing the thing where you hang upside-down from a gargoyle or something, stealth-grab a baddie from beneath you, and hang him from there by his ankles. In situations where there are a bunch of dudes in the same room you had to get this way, it's really fun to basically just stack their unconscious bodies in the same spot by snagging one dude, swinging to a nearby gargoyle/ledge, using a Batarang to cut that dude down, then swinging back and waiting for the next moron to come "inspect" the situation. I once had five guys piled up under the same gargoyle. Pretty boss.

I also liked how I never thought it was too hard, but I also never thought it was too easy, either. That's a tricky balance, and while there were bosses I had to re-fight a few times, I never got so stuck I turned the game off in frustration (as I'm wont to do sometimes). I'd know exactly what I needed to do in order to improve, if it was a fight. There were some kind of scary/trippy dream sequences with Scarecrow that I died in a lot, but that's because the game turns kind of side-scroll-ee, and I needed to figure out the terrain. Once I did, then it was a question of my reflexes in making sure I wasn't spotted- I liked that.

And and and and! I freaked out when Gordon "died" for a few minutes, shouting, "No fucking way, are you kidding me?" and I even started to cry a little, so I had to pause it for a few seconds. I could barely keep playing, and then the anger and determination I felt in moving on had to be synonymous with what Batman himself in the game was feeling- the closest thing he has to a friend, apart from Alfred, dead? Aw HELL no... Fuckers goin' down. (Of course, Batman would be better at keeping it at the level of justice, and not reaching revenge, than what I was clearly experiencing.) And then, when I realized he was alive, holy poop, I was so relieved. I mean, I literally had to pause the game, and I grabbed my chest and sighed, "Oh thank GOD." And after I caught my breath, I moved on.

I'm now playing through City, and it's hella harder, and I don't think the design is as good. The map is more confusing and has, I think, too many options. See, while both before and this time all of the sidequests are listed on the map in their various locations, this time you can set them as your objective or whatever- which is cool, but then it gets hella weird because I sometimes can't tell the difference between side missions and actual ones. Or, worse yet, the actual main mission isn't visible on the map!

For example, the first time you're trying to track down Mr. Freeze, you're supposed to find the coldest area of the city (a lame mechanic that I'll get back to soon), which ends up being the GCPD building. But as you're trying to get in, Victor Zsasz gives you a ring on the telly and says he's gonna off some hostages if you don't find the next phone and answer his call. I thought it was just a sidequest, so I ignored it the first time, and then whoops, time ran out and I had to restart or whatever. So this led to me having to leave and go back to GCPD more than once as this douchebag kept calling me. This particular and required sidequest was fucking stupid because it's not like you'd answer and the clock would restart- no, I had to go all the way back across the city to the police department in order for the original phone to ring again. And then I'd have to track down the new location.

So this leads to another criticism of this one. I'm not liking all of the stupid directional swingy things I'm having to do, the things where you're tracking some signal or the temperature (as said above) in order to find the location at which the next part of the game takes place. They're kind of like the (albeit ridiculous) trails Batman would pick up on in Asylum (blood, tobacco, I think pollen or something? yeah, they were kind of whacky, but in the sort of, Well of course he'd do that, he's the goddamn Batman), or at least serve the same purpose. But I dunno, I think it's kind of silly and rather boring- glide, grapple, tumble, glide, grapple, tumble. At least when running along the trails in Asylum, I'd have baddies to knock out- you can pretty much unintentionally avoid anybody getting to your destination in City. And I guess this makes it feel more like fluff and filler than actual gameplay. 

Now, full disclosure, I'm only about 12% through this one, so we'll see what happens when I'm finished. Maybe the mechanics will become more intuitive as I develop a rhythm to this one. And maybe I'll figure out a way to make it more... entertaining. I guess by doing the side missions? Harrumph. I still find that a problem- the main game itself should be engaging enough on its own, and the side missions should be what feels like the fluff. Am I being too demanding, here?

I'd like to move on to a new topic, and that is the ladies. Let's start with this image here:

On its own, fairly harmless, kinda sexy, sorta hard to take a stand on, to be honest. It speaks slightly of bondage, but it's hard to tell who's in charge, here, since while Catwoman has the handle of the whip, Batman has a bunch of it wrapped around his arm in what looks like an intentional move. So I can't decide how I feel about this image, and that's kind of how I feel about Catwoman so far. Because I was uber thrilled and happy to see that you actually play as her within the first five minutes of the game- and she's in a pretty non-skin-showing (although kinda tight) outfit; here's a better image:

See how it completely covers everything? The way it hugs so tightly is a little meh, but I do understand that's how Catwoman rolls- lots of pleather. And her character is sexualized, but can often be pretty badass and sexy while not objectifying. But then I realized this kinda thing happens: 

It's all open, and the angle is screaming, "BOOOOOOBS!" I mean, seriously, there's shadow from underboob there. It looks like if she sighed or breathed too hard, her boob would fall right out. That's annoying as Hell. And I noticed in most of her cutscenes, they're filled more with poses like this than substance- she does a lot of hip swaying and chest heaving.

But hang on, let's backtrack a bit, because there was another game. And in it, the only two women that weren't damsels in distress and wearing lab coats were Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. So here is Harley, first from Arkham Asylum, then Arkham City

She's pretty covered, but the poses, my God the poses. Here's a good example from City:

It was really annoying to watch her in-game because she'd do nothing but bend over and show her cleavage or ass whenever she was onscreen. Look at the angle of her back- it looks fucking painful! She'd just shift her weight from foot to foot, sticking her hip and boob out over and over again as she whined about Mr. J. It's as if she didn't know how to stand with her back straight and her hips aligned. And yeah, absolutely no independence at all.

And then there's Poison Ivy. Oh my God, this one really pissed me off. Her character design didn't change between games, so here's a montaged image: 

Panties made out of vines and a "coat" thing that doesn't really cover much (may as well just be a bra). And likewise with her, LOTS of thrusting the hips and boobs out there into the camera. Also, her character "development" is about as good as it was in Batman and Robin, which is to say, pretty damn shitty. It's actually rather nonexistent. Maybe I'm really dense, but I couldn't pick  up on any sort of motivation, other than, "You killed some plants, bro."

I guess my point is that while I had been vaguely aware that there were problems in how these games portray women, I'm experiencing it first-hand now while playing, and it makes me sad. It creates two minds in me, one that's all, Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BAT-MAAAAAN! And the other one that's all, Oh wow, can we get any more objectifying?* 

Harley Quinn, in particular, has a great story as an addition to canon because fans loved her so much from the animated series that comic writers started writing her in, and she's even had her own spinoff series- in which she does a bunch of stuff, you know, solo, and isn't all, "Oh noes, Mr. J., baby, why'd you hit me? I lurve you!"  But of course, all she does is provide T&A in these games- she herself is never a real threat (so far- again, not done with number 2 yet). 

And you know what? Even if Poison Ivy's origins/ character is extremely corny or whatever in the existing canon, why can't they fucking make it better in new additions to said canon? See, this is why the whole "canon" argument from apologetic defenders of the genre is really frustrating for me, and, frankly, bullshit. If every new edition of the comic is adding to it, if every game, every movie, then why the fuck don't the women get better? The men do, why not the women? Batman has had how many different tellings of his origin story? The Joker? How many different personalities has every male character had? Just Batman himself, even? And they're all legit, but HEAVEN forbid we make Poison Ivy less sexxed up and have more coherent/ less laughable goals and motivations because that would be, gasp, out of character...

Now Catwoman, at least, has a lot of impressive source material, material with  the potential to make this version of her pretty stand-alone and kickass. So while I'm hoping Catwoman impresses me more as I get to see her in action later, I don't think Ivy or Harley will, if the first game is any indication  (and since there's enough pre-existing stuff about them that's rather simpering and annoying- any kick-assiness is likely to be ignroed).

And this, of course, is part of the larger issue/discussion of women playing and being in games and reading and being in comics. Something I'll probably rant about myriad times here. But if you've ever heard of Anita Sarkeesian and are familiar with any of her vlogs or statements, then you've heard it all before.

So I guess I'd give Asylum a 9.5 out of 10, but so far, City is more like a 6, maybe even a 5. 

*Sadly, we can. Observe: Bayonetta. I may or may not comment more on this gal in a later post/ group of posts.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pretty Fly for a Not-White-Not-Guy

So here's one experiment that went pretty gorram well, dare I say:

I'm lifting the spoon so it's visible, but that's a soup I made on the fly for dinner. I needed to use up some tomato paste and chicken stock (protip: use a whisp in a bowl to mix this base broth together so the paste is all un-paste-like before you start adding other ingredients, otherwise you'll make a hugeass mess, not that I have experience with this, ahem), and had loved the turkey sausage I'd had for lunch earlier today enough that I thought I'd try and throw some stuff in the saucepan and see what happened. My only complaint was it was a bit too pepper-ee. That's usually my only problem, I frequently add too much gorram pepper. It's hard to tell how much I've added, though, because we have a fancy pepper grinder, and it makes the pepper come out in a combination of dusty powder and CHUNKS of pepper corn.

But for me, cooking on the fly is a question of keeping a stock of certain things on-hand and changing up what I add in a given moment. So in this case, I added some worsheschtestershireblahblah* sauce and mustard to give it a little bit of kick- that and the excess pepper made it quite kicky indeed.

But my usual things I have to cook with are:

-Frozen veggies: I'm sorry, kids, but this is cheaper and easier than having fresh stuff around. Especially when you never know when you'll either get invited to be social or feel too damn lazy to chop a bunch of shit up to eat- this way, you don't run the risk of it going bad. I try to change up the types, but I usually go for California or Italian Style, plus peas and lima beans. And broccoli on its own. Love broccoli in foods- it soaks up sauces like NOM. Just run them under some water in a strainer for a few minutes before cooking, and PRESTO, we can pretend to be healthy!

-Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: I buy them in packs and, before putting them in the freezer, wrap them individually in plastic wrap. I usually cut off excess fat before freezing, too, since I buy cheap store brands that tend to waste a lot of cents per ounce on fat- blegh, slimy, nasty, ew. Chicken can go in anything- which, alas, just isn't true about beef. I mean, how many pasta dishes (other than Hamburger Helper) (which, God... help... me, I love) have beef in them? Not many. And nothing I've ever thought to make, anyway. When you go to Italian restaurants, you have the option of adding chicken or shrimp (+$2.99), but have you ever seen beef? No, I didn't think so.

-Beef tenderloin: But yes, I have been keeping beef "for the grill" on-hand lately. That pretty much always ends up being used when I'm in a stir fry kinda mood. Because, as I said above, beef isn't as easy to do random stuff with. I've usually planned for at least a random stir fry night (although I do on rare occasion make fajitas, but that, too, takes pre-planning because it means getting bell peppers and beans). Or, at least, not for me. So these I also cut and freeze into proportions that seem logical for cooking for one.

-Canned tomatoes of various kinds: Again, sorry, it's easier to have cans than fresh. They last forever. Sauce, stewed, and paste are what I usually have. 

-White wine: For sauces and marinades. Then, you can either pull a My Drunk Kitchen while you cook, or share the bottle when you're done in the kitchen with someone awesome, like your fantastic better-half-of-a-roommate. Wine is nice because the alcohol cooks down (if you do it right), it helps thin stuff that was thicker out (like if you, say, use mustard in a marinade) (I always add a ladlefull of cooking sherry at Hu Hot to help the sauce be more saucy and get on all the ingredients as the dudes cook my food), which sure, water can do, but it also adds a slight pangy-like flavor (you can tell I'm totes a fancy food critic, amirite?). I don't like red wines as much, but I imagine that would probably work fine, too. But anyway, cooking with wine isn't all that nuts, people do it all the time, and Hell, "wine sauce" is a real thing, so I'm just making my own sadass attempts at replicating it. 

-Rice and pasta: Duh. Now not all of my rice foods end up being stir fry, but I've never tried anything other than tomato-based sauces for pastas. Maybe someday I'll grow a pair and do something crazy. But not yet. When it comes to pasta, I try to rotate around and get different ones, and I stick to the kind that are stabbable, not the kind you'd need to twist around the fork- so bowtie or penne, not angel hair or spaghetti. This has more to do with how prone I am to spilling than any particular taste. 

-Minced garlic: Again, LAZY. Also, it's cheaper. I "err on the side of garlic," as I like to say, so when I use garlic in a dish, I use garlic in a dish. We're talking, like, at least a tablespoon. Imagine all the garlic I'd be peeling and crushing and mincing. That'd take up so much friggin' time! 

-Garlic salt: Helps add the garlic flavor, while taking care of the salt factor, so having garlic POWDER is unnecessary, usually. And I prefer the kind with green, leafy bits in the bottle. 

-Lemon pepper: I love this stuff. It adds a different kind of zing than regular pepper.

-Red Robin salt: It's better than regular seasoned salt (which yes, I do have). And yes, you can buy it if you ask the server when you go to Red Robin. Do it, and then come back and tell me whether you loved it or regretted it- and if it's the latter, I guarantee you I'll feel sorry for you. There's a sort of running joke/expectation in my household that every time I visit the family in Vegas, I'll bring a bottle with me- I usually do. I put one in the spice cabinet here with my roommie and she was uber excited and gets why I love the stuff. It's nummy, and again, different. 

My other big problem is I was trained to cook for six with the intent of having leftovers from elementary school, so I consistently struggle with cooking an amount that won't feed a small army. Like, seriously, when I first moved into this apartment, I didn't know how to cook anything less than a whole fucking box of pasta. I'm getting a lot better, though, and have even been able to do enough to feed myself and not have leftovers. 'Twas a proud, proud moment. 

I think I'm okay. I dunno, honestly, I love food so much, I may very well be bloody terrible at cooking, but I just don't realize it. I like cooking for others and don't get to do it very often, though, so I try to come up with excuses- for example, my roommie had an icky take-home exam a few weekends ago, so I offered to cook her stir fry. We had teriyaki** bowls with a friend that night, and it was lovely. I hope whatever future boyfriend I have is okay with sharing the cooking responsibilities, and by that I mean letting me do a lot or most of the cooking. I've always thought the idea of cooking for someone and giving them a massage sounds very appealing. Le sigh...

Anyhoo, I want something sweet. I think I'll go grab an orange. 

I can make an entirely different entry about baking, so I will, some other time. 

*Of course, I mean Worcestershire sauce. I can never say this correctly, so I just make shit up every time, saying it way wrong on purpose so I don't look like I'm actually trying. I thought I'd be more true to life here. You're welcome. 

**Why the frak is it telling me that's misspelled? The FUCK, Chrome, srsly? 

Friday, March 29, 2013


I took this one the other night as River was frolicking just before bed. Good action shot, if I do say so myself.

River knows a bunch of different commands for when she needs to "do her business," so to speak. "Outside" is what it sounds like, as are "poop," "trash," and "home," while "potty" means doing number one. My roommie and I are likely the only dog owners in our complex that actually pick up after our dog when they've left a-something on the grass, and I find that when I get back inside, it's often my shoes, not River's paws, that need wiping off (and we have a towel hanging by the door for that purpose). I swear, I hate people sometimes, holy poop, clean up after your gorram dog!

So anyway, River and I went on a walk yesterday, intended to last about half an hour or so. It was a really nice day, after all- bright, crisp, the slightest hint of a breeze. Hell, there were even birds a-singing, for crying out loud. Couldn't not hang with my girl for a bit in the beauty of nature. And naturally, after only a few minutes, she started to take a dump on the grass between the sidewalk and the street.

"Good poop, River! Good poop!" I gave her a treat to occupy her as I picked up her little gift to the world, using an old grocery bag, and we moved on.

Now me, I like to go different ways every time we go for a real walk so neither of us gets bored with the surroundings, so I tried  a new neighborhood near one of the bigger streets to which ours connects. And wouldn't you know it... I got lost. Of course, right? But hey, I'm an independent woman, and I have a dog that'd prolly bite off the penis of any dude that tried assaulting me, so I changed the music I had going to something more badass-sounding (to a collection of Filter's greatest hits, if you must know), and the two of us soldiered on. Or, well, I soldiered on- River just continued to sniff and tug and esplore and OHMYGODTHAT'SABIRD!

Once we'd been gone for over an hour, I started to get a little worried. I mean, this was getting kind of ridiculous. I had purposely avoided cul de sacs and dead ends, but I couldn't find either my street or that one connecting to it.

Not only that, but nobody had their trash cans out, so I was carrying a grocery bag with a bunch of poop in it with me the whole time. So pleasant, let me tell you, nothing says "it should be spring right now" better than birds singing, the sun shining, and the stench of dog poop, fresh beside you. 

Just when I was about to start panicking, River planted herself in the grass of someone's front lawn.

"Damnit, River, not now!" I said, thinking she was about to lie down or something. She does this when she's tired and forced to be outside. But instead of lying down, she started taking another dump.

And this one was kind of a duzy. I mean, it was bigger than the first one. "'The Hell, River? Haven't I been carrying around your last load this whole time? How can a dog your size have that much poop in there?"

When she finished, she looked at me with those damn eyes and I felt like the worst person in the world. "Aw, I'm sorry, baby," I said, and I knelt beside her and gave her some fake bacon to occupy her as I tried to figure out what the crap (hah) to do, here.

Moral dilemma: Do I reopen the bag and pick this crap up, or do I skedattle before someone catches me? I looked at River, and she looked at me, and I looked at her, and she yawned, and I looked at her poop. And I sighed.

Damn my conscience.

After some maneuvering of the bag, I started to very carefully pick up her droppings, since, you know, there was already poop in there, and I sure as Hell didn't want to drop it and make a mess. As I was doing this, I heard a honk, and when I looked up, some dude was driving really slow and giving me a thumbs up, grinning.

"YES!" I shouted at him, "I'm a model citizen!"

"You GO, girl!" he shouted back, then sped away.

As if this random act of upstandedness gave me great karma, I almost immediately found my street, and River and I were home and in the door less than twenty minutes later. In all, the walk lasted an hour-and-a-half, including potty and poop breaks. Also the occasional attempt to lie down by River once I knew where I was going (of course). She was tiiiiiired.

So you think things would be great, right? I'd be on the good side of the poop gods, right?

Well, no. Apparently not. Because then, this morning, as I was picking up her morning load, she tugged unexpectedly on the leash, and the poop started to fall out of the bag. And I, being oh so genius, instinctively tried to catch it... with my hand. 


Aw, shit. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


When I was sixteen, I had the opportunity to take an I.Q. test. See, the pediatric neuropsychologist (mouthful, I know) that had been working with my younger siblings for ages also works with gifted children, too, so she told my mom that when my older sis and I each reached sixteen, she'd do stuff like I.Q., personality, and the what-jobs-are-best-for-you bullshit. So as I sat there, my frustration slowly escalated every time I had a non-verbal thing to do. Logic puzzles, patterns, manipulation of physical objects, etc. I'm not sure how far in it was, but eventually I was supposed to be putting a wooden cube made of rectangular sticks back together- I had been working on this particular 3D puzzle for almost ten minutes and wasn't even a third done. The doctor kept reminding me I wasn't timed, but every time she said it, I only got angrier. "I know, Dr. ___, I'm trying." Finally, after I passed the ten minute mark, my rage finally boiled over.

"FUCK THIS SHIT!" I shouted and threw as many pieces as I could fit in my hand across the room. One whizzed by the face of the doctor.

"Okay," she said, eyes wide. "You're done."

When it was time to talk about my results, she said she wouldn't average my verbal and non-verbal scores because while I was dancing near the genius level in the former, I was precariously close to developmentally delayed in the latter. And that wouldn't give a "true" indication of what I'm capable of or whatever mumbojumbobullshit excuses she had.

You may think that was the start of my fear of numbers, but all that did was solidify preexisting feelings and phobias with math. I was almost always the last kid to pass their times tables tests in third grade (the grade level you learn those in my school district), I needed extra help with long division and multiplication in fourth grade, I barely got Cs in math in middle school, which meant I wasn't remotely good enough to take algebra before high school, and then that teacher refused to let me into an Honors geometry the following year, the year I took this I.Q. test. I've never been good with numbers, and that was with my mom cheering me on the whole time, telling me how smart I was and how I could do anything, etc.- I don't remember ever getting wind of any of those gender stereotypes little girls get told.

Quite the opposite: Expectations of me were always quite high. This could partially have been because of my older sis- she took an I.Q. test when we were little, and apparently did so bloody well on it that I had to follow her around the Southern California school systems because all the elementary schools wanted her to inflate their test scores (I can only assume I either didn't take one myself, or I was mediocre enough to not matter). And she lived up to the expectations- she kicked ass in math (and if she didn't, it was because she didn't do her homework or something- yeah, my older sis is one of those lazy geniuses that people like me get greener than Hulk thinking about because of how hard we have to work to do fractionally as well at anything). So her reputation preceded me- as such, teachers would assume I'd do just as well and be entirely shocked and confused when I didn't.

But somewhere as a young-un, I picked up on how bad I was with numbers, so then I became one of those kids that psychs themselves into doing really shitty in math. I'd try, believe me, I'd try- but there was always a little demon in the back of my head telling me it was pointless, I'd fail, I'm stupid, etc.

I still hate numbers.

Statistics? Forget about it.

I was trained to hate statistics. Because people aren't numbers. My mom and grandma would remind me not to think of people as dots on a line or as pieces of a pie graph- people are people, flesh and blood, like me, like them (as in Mom and Grandma). Especially since even from a wee ickle age, I was a statistic in a few ways:

##Neither of my parents went to college, nor any of their siblings, and only one grandparent did.

##My mom's generation was the first to live off the reservation in South Dakota- and my grandpa was the only member of his that left it, but he moved back when he and my grandma divorced, anyway, so I still have a crapton of cousins and relatives there. 

##Iz a gurl.

##Being bullied.

 As I got older and experienced more, all three of those things, along with the constant reminders from my mom and grandma (while she was still alive) that the world is cruel, but we can change it for the better, helped me notice oppression and suchandsuch. I stood up to my fourth grade teacher for insisting "Sioux" is pronounced "Sao," for example (she got so angry she threw a folder onto the table she was at), and I'm pretty sure I went to the principal for it, but that my mom was proud as fuck. And I'd stand up for other kids, even though I'd get bullied, myself. I finished a few fights in elementary and middle school (never started, though- Dad was proud of those ones) (and I never lost). 

And then I started to realize there were more ways in which I was a statistic:


##Siblings with disabilities.

##Alcoholism and abuse at home.

##Certain health problems.

Not to sound Ivory Tower and all, but I definitely felt the race-class-gender trifecta at college. I mean my GOD, there's a reason my undergrad is nicknamed Whiteman. I mean, when my mom came to visit for the first time, it was for my graduation, and on her second-to-last day, she dropped her iced tea onto the table we were at and said, "Oh my GOD! I understand what was bothering me!"

"What?" I asked, freaking the fuck out. Something had been bothering her? What the Hell?

She bent down over the table and said in a low, conspiratorial voice, "I just saw my first black person. NO wonder they don't get it, they're all a bunch of white trust fund babies!"

Yes, Mom, yes. I had been saying that all four years. Good job. 

I did some... stuff... then hit grad school, and felt even more like a statistic. And then what does my discipline want me to use?


Oh, the bitter irony of it all!

I think there's something fundamentally unethical about "operationalizing" people and social structures and phenomena and calling them data and running them through stats programs and then proclaiming you somehow understand the human condition more. Fuck that shit.

Fuck. That. Shit.

And even since starting grad school, I've become more of a statistic.

##Sexual assault (more than once). 

##The stereotypical gives-in-then-never-sees-him-again situation. The one men don't like being stereotyped for doing, but then go and do it. And that I'd be called a whore for, if the positions were reversed. 

##Sexual harassment. 

##A bad prof to work for.

##More health problems.

This Ivory Tower is totes suffocating for a freakish go-getter like me. And yet, I know if I leave, I'll become a statistic again, and in soooo many ways: Another Native American that quit grad school. Another woman that quit grad school. Etc.- basically, take a bunch of the above and add, "... that quit grad school." 

But, I'm 100% positive of a few things. Yay numbers!

##I have a lot of awesome friends.

##I have a few family members that love me.

##I have the best dog in the world.

##I fucking love peanut butter.

##I'm a good person.

I'm okay with being statistical for those things. Absoposolutely. And that keeps me going. Where I'll end up, I have no fucking clue. I know (vaguely) what I want (family, house, career, and I think in that order of importance), but where, precisely, and how? Meh. Keep on fightin' the good fight. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What Makes Me Feel Better

I got (what could be) some really shitty news today while at one of my best friend's bridal showers. If you know me well enough and have the balls to ask, go ahead. I still may not want to tell you anyway, but don't take it personal. I don't like burdening people with my problems, and anyway, it's pretty fucking personal to me, this shit.

Butbutbut. I thought I'd take this chance to talk about what makes me feel better when I'm down. 

##Right now, the first thing is cuddling my dog, River. I took this picture specifically for this blog post (she's licking my ear right now, I can barely type)

Yes, that's the Batman blanket (and my knee) (and yes, those are Tigger pajama pants)- I'm telling you, she's MY dog. Heh. She can tell when my rommie or I are sad. She was totally cuddling all over my roommie this morning because she was down, too. (And rommie is great now, no worries, there, heh.) River is my little batangel. 

##I also like to bake when it's stress that has me bogged down, too. I haven't baked very much this semester, prolly just because I've been so crazy busy. Which is slightly ironic- I'm unable to do what helps me de-stress, and stressed because of it. Oh, life, how cyclical thou art, sometimes.

##Watching a few old movies, ones with sentimental, nostalgic value. A few of the titles (and there are a few more) are The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Last Unicorn. I associate these movies with times in my childhood where I felt safe and loved. They help me escape back to that feeling, even when I'm going through things that, were I to think of them, I'd be crazy not to feel the opposite. 

##Old books. I only have a few novels I reread, one of which is also The Last Unicorn, but this is also why I just bought my two favorite children's stories, Many Moons and The Hundred Dresses. Like with the movies, only more so, because not only do I escape to my own, safe world in the past, but also into the worlds of the books. I dive more into the worlds of books than movies or TV shows. And I doubt I'm the only person that does this, but still. If I'm being honest, may as well practice full disclosure, too. Sorta. ;)

##Spending time with friends. That's usually pretty helpful. If I put on the happy face long enough, I get so caught up in the act that I forget what had me sad, at least for a little while. This is partially why I know I prolly shouldn't live alone. Last semester, when my roommate was in PA with her husband, was probably one of the hardest of my life- being alone during all of the terrible stuff I was going through made it all even worse. And even though I don't tell her everything, just having her in the next room or across the hall gives me comfort. Thanks, roommie. And I'm sorry. I'm an extremely codependent person, to the point where I realize it's a character flaw. So I try not to be too much of a burden on the people I care about. But just being around them, even when I don't let on that I'm sad and they don't even know about it, helps me deal. That's just how I roll, y'all.

##Peanut butter. 'Nough said, amirite?

##Comics. I'm currently reading these. I think because comics (at least the ones I read) are about people that see problems and fix them. And I want to do that with my life. It's sort of aspirational reading. No, I have no intention of donning a cowl and jumping from building to building- I wouldn't look good in spandx, and anyway, I'd fall on my fat ass if I tried to do anything more than go up and down the stairs with anything above a fast jog, let alone jump and tuck and roll and fight baddies. 

##Video games. I'm glad I broke down over Thanksgiving weekend (fuck yeah Black Friday sales, bitcheeeeeez!) and bought a PS3. I may only play for a few minutes, but the focus I need to get shit done in the game lets me lose myself in that world and forget the pain or whatever shittyass shit is going on.

##Doing laundry (and usually with something on the TV or a podcast going). I know, I know, that's kinda weird, but I love doing laundry. I like the scents and warmth and softness of the fabrics when they're fresh out of the dryer, and the routine, rhythmic nature of folding/hanging stuff requires just enough mental power to, again, lose myself. But I can still take in what's going on at the moment, so yeah, I usually have something on TV or listen to the Overthinkingit podcast (which in the case of the latter has, on occasion, got me in trouble, because I've missed small portions of the conversation and posted walls of text on their comment pages that I wouldn't have needed to, had I caught those parts... ahem...).

##Doing dishes, and for similar reasons as the laundry. Again, kinda weird. But I like the smell of dish soap, and the feel of the water on my hands. And, to be a little deeper, I feel like the act of cleaning things is somewhat metaphoric for cleaning myself. For whatever reason, I have a lot of guilt in my heart and soul, and maybe that's partially why I'm so Hell-bent on helping others. Like I have something to make up for, and what it is, I have no fucking clue. But anyhoo, so seeing that the dishes go from dirty to clean is a way of seeing that I've somehow fixed something, made something useful again. It's ritualistic, familiar, and safe.

##Singing. I rarely get to do this one, probably THE only bad thing about having a roommate. It's not that I'm bad at it (although no, I'd never win Star Search or American Idol or whatever). I'm self-conscious. I especially don't sing on command, so unless it's the random breaking-into-song-that-isn't-really-meant-to-sound-good (which I do when hanging out with people- oh yes, oh yes), or at a party and I've had a little bit to drink and it's a song I like (which also does happen), or karaoke, I don't do it around others. Because when I sing, really sing, I sing what's in my heart. As a consequence, the last time I sang "for" someone, it got broken*. But still, I sing to myself when I'm alone, and even if there are tears, they're the healing kind.

I don't want to end this on a depressing... note... HAHAHA!

So um... CUTE BABY!!!

*And maybe someday, I'll trust someone new enough to sing "for" them.  I hope I do, anyway. I want to sing for someone. With all of my heart, however damaged it may be.**

**Wow, I sound like an emo kid. Yeesh. Oh well, YOLO.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Speed-viewing- I'm an oddball, apparently

Okay, whoa. I just clicked the "Next Blog" link at the top of the page twenty times. Here's a breakdown of what I found:

13: Families talking about their "daily lives" to keep in touch with members of their extended family across the country/globe. I got teary-eyed reading one, because the most recent entry was their first after coming home from another country with their new baby. 

3: Moms blogging about their kids. I'm separating this out because they were written in first-person singular, while the first category was in first-person plural. Also, these very much take their identity from their mom-ness- the descriptions are all variations on "my life as a mom of X kids" or whatever. I find this especially interesting because none of them seemed to be identifying as wives, although one had a family portrait on her page that included a dude I (heteronormatively, sure) am assuming was her husband, or at least the father. 

2: Regular, run-of-the-mill bloggers talking about whatever. One was a gal that listed a bunch of things with mom as one of them (her theme was her roller derby, though, and the latest post happened to be about that, too, so she obviously identifies as more than just a mother). The other looked like a regular nerd-type- there were pictures of Link from Zelda in one post, while they were talking about some Russian philosopher in another. Maybe a college student, then, I dunno- no description for that one. 

1: Dude with a Latin degree that talks about theological debates, going back to "the original Latin" or something to "inform" his position. (He'll never get a job, unless he's a prof- I didn't stay on his blog long enough to check.)

1: A pizza place. 

I'm not at all saying this is a representative sample or anything. But I'm kind of perplexed. I had no idea this was used so much for keeping in touch with other people. I guess that makes sense- I mean, that's a big reason I keep my Facebook page, so that I can get in touch with people really quick. (It makes planning parties hella easy, amirite? And George Takei's posts kind of own the internet.)

This makes me wonder. Should I just post a crapton of pictures of my dog, River, so that I can fit in more? Because as far as I'm concerned, she's my kid- unless there's some sort of immaculate conception scheme of which I'm unaware, I'm not anywhere near having a real child, let alone an entire family.

Not that I don't want a family or kids. I've known since before I was in kindergarten that I want to be a wife and mom. That means I want a husband (because yes, I'm straight), and preferably first (because I want a partner in it and someone to share my life with, not because I feel like I need a man to be complete). But that means I'm hardly on my way to having the ability to ooze and oogle about my young-uns. 

And then, hold the phone- my second post is about River! So I already kind of fit in, right? 


Maybe I should just start selling my baked goods. Then I'd be more like the pizza place.

Mmmm, pizza....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'm Not As Nice As Everyone Thinks

Now, hang on. Don't let the title make you think I think I'm a raging bitch. Because no, I don't think that. In fact, I do think I'm pretty damn nice. Nicer than the average person, even.


Here's the thing. 

I'm an emotional being. Also more so than the average person. Quite a lot. Which means that when I get angry, I get fucking pissed. And it means I can get pretty Goddamned testy, judgy, and grudge-ee. 

I may love you to death, but I'll also be irked as fuck with how you constantly delegitimize me whenever I dare to express unhappiness with something. I may jump down your throat when you tell me no and then basically restate what I just said as if it's your own, correct idea- but when it came out of my mouth, it was somehow way, way wrong. I may get really irritated and just stop talking to you when you start to tell me how I'm wrong and condescend and/or mansplain to me about all the stats and data and basically say, "Look, honey, you have no idea what you're talking about, lemme break it down for you."

And I absolutely guarantee you, I'll fucking want to rip your throat out if you harp on one tiny detail of what I'm saying and try to use it to make everything I've said in the entire exchange invalid- whether it's online, through text, in person, whatever.

I will never, ever think a rape joke is okay. So don't bother telling any around me- I'll just lose respect for you and think you're a terrible person. Seriously, I knew a guy in high school that thought rape jokes were funny back then, and while I haven't talked to him in years, I still don't even remember his name- he's just Rape Joke Asshole to me. And if and when I see him at our ten year anniversary reunion, I won't be surprised if I accidentally blurt out when he reminds me who he is as we shake hands, "Oh, you're Rape Joke Asshole!"

Also, remember how I said I'm judgy?

  • If you constantly troll people, I'll judge you for it, and think you're an asshole. And if you troll me or someone I care about all the time, I'll fucking hate you. Because, call me crazy, I don't think it's funny to upset other people (normally)*.
  • If you espouse one belief, then one that's entirely contradictory, I'll judge you and consider you a hypocrite. For example, don't call yourself a socialist, and then tell me that there's no need for feminism because it's illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex. 
  • If you wear sandals with socks, I'll judge you for it and think you're a disgusting slob. I've actually been caught sneering a little at people at the bus stop for this before. You know, that look as if there's something kind of smelly nearby? Yeah. 
  • If you tell me you think there has been too much government regulation under President Obama, I'll judge you and think you're an elitist sonofabitch that would rather let the fuckers running the banks off scott free than see people not starve. 
  • If you try to tell me why one nerd thing is better than another (for example, Star Trek over Star Wars or vice-versa), I'll judge you and think you're an argumentitive, divisive prick that gets off on causing conflict, and I won't want to be around you anymore. 
True story: When I told someone I got a dog and their reaction was, "Too bad it wasn't a cat," I bit the inside of my cheek so hard it bled and imagined punching the person in the face. I responded snarkily enough when they were done ranting about how cats are better, part of my response being that it's a damn good thing I had never planned on ever having them anywhere near my apartment, anyway, but now I literally feel like vomiting whenever I see this person, I dislike them so much. And I'm pretty damn sure they know it, too. If not, they're fucking stupid. 

So, I may sometimes be a pushover- I recognize that in my urgent desire to make people happy, I tend to let them get away with a lot of shit- but for God's sake, don't treat me like one. 

And now, an adorable puppy:

Seriously, though, I get told I'm "too nice" sometimes, and I don't really understand why. I mean, is everybody I'm friends with/around just used to being near people that are that awful

But, here's a question: Why is "too nice" even an expression? Is there really such a thing as too much nice? I'd hope not.

But whatever. Time for bed.

*I mean, okay, I'll sort of poke fun at people. And bait them a bit. But it's never intended maliciously, and that's the difference between me and a troll. Trolls laugh at, I laugh with. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

River Runs Through It- What Do?

My dog's name is River, a double homage/ nerd entendre referencing two of my favorite female fictional characters, River Song from Doctor Who and River Tam from Firefly. She's friggin' adorable. Observe, a progression in cuteness:

Looking kind of noble, but bored here, right? 

 Aw, see, friggin' cute!

 But this is definitely the best.

Totally my dog. She loves that Batman blanket. And peanut butter*. A dog after my own heart. She's a pit mix of some sort, although what else with, not sure. Three years old (ish) (the vet we've taken to her thus far is entirely incompetent, so when I change vets, I'll tell you if they give me a different age). It was obvious she came from a loving home, as she had no signs of abuse or neglect, was in perfect physical condition, and was house trained and knew a bunch of indoor tricks- she can sit, shake, lay down, stay, come, and jump. But her outdoor behavior seems to have gone completely unchecked- she tugs like crazy on the leash, sniffs every single blade of grass, and gets aggressive when other people or dogs are in her line of sight. Also, she jumps when people first come into the apartment and gets really hyper for a while.

My roommate was out of town all week for spring break, so it was just River and me. She bolted out the door on Tuesday as I was taking the recycling out (and before accusations are flung, I had barely opened the door when she shoved past me- I had planned on yanking the bin, which I had brought over with me, outside and slamming the door shut really fast; in other words, it isn't like I had left the door hanging open), but it didn't go too badly- she ran around the complex a bit and chased some teenager to his door; since the door was in a covered archway, she boxed herself in, so I snatched her pretty fast and took her home.

I looked this up online, and realized while I hadn't handled it the best, I also didn't do too terribly. I just stayed silent and took her home and threw her in the cage she goes in when nobody's home for a while (which is better than yelling when I got her back, although not as good as giving lots of praise as soon as she was in my possession again). It did freak me out though, and I decided I should probably get a dish for treats to put next to the door so that I or anyone else could grab some to go after her with. But I didn't actually get the chance to do it before last night. AND LAST NIGHT WAS AWFUL. I had friends over, and as some were leaving, I said I was going to take River out, but could they wait so I could get a bag for any droppings. They didn't hear me say this, so they opened the door and let it hang there. And River? She bolted. And this time, as I and one of the people that had been leaving followed, she crossed the street and started running in a patch of houses. After a block or so, I was so distraught that I collapsed and started sobbing. The friend had been ahead of me, so they turned and helped me up, but I was so upset, I just slapped their chest a few times and screamed, "I TOLD YOU TO WAIT!"

"I'm sorry! I didn't see her, and I thought you were right behind us." I said it didn't matter, we needed to find her, I didn't see which way she went, let's split up. So we went in opposite directions, but a few moments later, I heard them holler my name instead of River's. I turned around and ran full force in that direction, and like an angel holding redemption itself, there this friend was, carrying my River toward me. It was like a movie as the two of them emerged into the halo of a streetlight, I swear. The friend said she had just flopped down in the grass of someone's front lawn and wagged her tail like mad as they approached her. I gave her lots of praise once we were at the door, but I didn't stop crying for longer than I let on with my friends (and cried harder as soon as they were gone); I was shaking for about half an hour (I had to call someone that usually is able to get me to relax, even without realizing it- thank God for this person). I slept like crap, too.

So then today, my roommate got home and accidentally got a boot she was carrying stuck in the door. So of course, River bolted again. I had no shoes on, and my roommate dropped some stuff on the ground outside our door to chase after River, so after my feet started hurting, I backtracked, put my roommate's things inside, got some Beggin' Strips, River's leash, and my phone, put on some shoes, and ran back outside. I followed the route she had taken last night and saw no traces of her, so as my chest started to hurt (and not from the running), I took the long way back to my place and got there just as my roommate called to tell me the two of them were inside. River had ran over half a mile and trapped herself in someone's yard or something (can't quite remember, I just know she did something similar to what she did when I was alone and went into something with barriers), and then apparently kept trying to lie down on the way back. 

This running-like-lightning-through-the-door thing, I have no idea what to do about it. I have a pretty big apartment, but I need a longer leash to do the right kind of training to get this out of her (which would involve really intense training for "come" and multiple distances and lengths of time, as well as positions). I have a Gentle Leader and all, and I was going to use it to get her to walk better outside (as in stop the fucking tugging on the leash), but I don't know how using that would help me train her to not run away, unless I plan training sessions with other people and have them open the door while she's wearing it and her leash. I'm not trying to make excuses, because I do plan on gettkng the longer leash and figuring out some sort of training regime my roommate and I can execute. I'm just scared out of my mind now that my little baby will run again, and that next time, she won't be found.

Yes, she's microchipped and has all sorts of tags and stuff, but still. I'm positive her previous owner(s) lost her because she bolted and they couldn't get her back; she hadn't been microchipped before, so I imagine they either didn't realize she was gone because they weren't home when she got out, or they lost track of her like I had last night and, for some reason or another, never found her again. So yeah, I do think that, even if her collar somehoe comes off, I'd still get her back. But. I feel like a terrible mother. Three times in less than a week, two in under twenty-four hours. I just feel awful. And really helpless. I want my River to be safe and happy. And I don't want to have to "discipline" her- I have both feet firmly in the school of positive reinforcement, so I'd rather reward her for good behavior than yell at her for bad (and I refuse to strike her, sorry folks).

I wish our spring break was two weeks- I'd take the next week to train her fifteen minutes every hour or two every day. But I go back to school tomorrow, so I guess a few times every evening, and as much as I can on weekends will have to suffice.

*When she eats peanut butter, it's out of one of those Kong things. It's hilarious and adorable, because she doesn't pin it down with a paw, she follows it as it turns around- so she walks in circles as she tries to lick the peanut butter out of it as it rotates, and I've seen her get dizzy a few times doing it. Tee hee! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I've been told I have funny/good writing, by lots of people- my creative writing prof in undergrad told me I should go pro, and my friends tell me my emails and posts on FB and whatnot are entertaining. I do like doing it, and yeah, if I had the werewithal and such, I'd prolly quit gradschool in a millisecond and do it for real. But that's not in the cards, so alas, I'll try blogging again. I've done it before, and it comes and goes, ebbs and flows. We'll see how long this lasts. Funny, I thought I'd do "notes" on FB this morning about music, and then another friend said something about me being a blogger a few hours later. So mayhap I'll transfer the project from FB to here.

So hi. I'm Gab. This will be about all sorts of things- movie and comic reviews, the trials and triumphs of grad school, being a woman of color and nerd, having a dog, loving love, and not always being able to gauge* how many more I can have before I get more tipsy than I'd like. Also, prolly food. My approach to life is to try to find the humor in things, since a lot of crazyass shit seems to happen to and around me. If I didn't laugh, I'd be freaking out all the time, so it can get a little dark-humor-ee sometimes. Other times, genuinely funny. And yes, sometimes there's no way around the sad. That's why I'm calling this blog "American Dramedy." That's my life. A dramedy. In 'Murica. Fuck yeah.**

*Why the eff am I never able to spell that one correctly by my onesie? I always need the gorram spellchecker. >.< 
**Also, I swear. A lot.