Caprica

Jan. 31st, 2010 05:28 pm
entelein: (neku)
I just wanted to post that I really, really like Caprica.

I think if you've never watched Battlestar Galactica, you will still enjoy it - there is some very solid sci-fi stuff going on in the series, but similar to BSG, there is also a LOT of room for some lovely human interaction that is well-written and feels very real, very down-to-Earth. The use of color is ... well, I really LOVE excellent use of color, so let's just say it's awesome, and helps to tell the story. The camera shots in general are a pleasure to watch - the series is filmed with a 3 or 4 camera method, so most of the scenes you're seeing - reaction shots, longer sequences of dialogue from different angles - so many of those are edited from the same take. There is a very organic feel and flow to each scene, as a result.

One top-down shot of a glass being lifted from a wooden table, leaving a ring behind, is one of my favorites. Once you know why that shot is significant, know that what it does narratively is just one example of how the camera work helps to tell the story.

Also, Eric Stoltz! Esai Morales! Really excellent unknowns!

And, if you *are* one of those people that has watched and generally loved BSG, there are many, many little moments that resonate and give meaning to later events in the chronology of these people. The style of Caprica is different from BSG, definitely, but there are threads running through it that give more life to what happens after Baltar and Six first meet.

I am really excited about what's to come.
entelein: (tara)
Broiled spinach feta chicken sausages, bowtie pasta with spinach, carrot, red pepper, a handful of edamame. That was dinner tonight, eaten late, and so now it feels like the night was wasted, but dinner was delicious, and I got a sinkful of pots and pans washed, so I guess it wasn't a total loss.

I still swoop between okay moods and bad ones, but the low dips are so much higher than they used to be. It's good. It's not quite equilibrium, but I'll take what I can get. Still intensely grateful for my job, and still loving my apartment very much.

Oh, and I returned two library books I was having trouble getting started. I really want to get my eyes checked and see if I need to get reading glasses. Basically, I just have to sit down and arrange a good time that is not going to cut into work. And then, see if getting eyewear is in any way affordable if I need serious corrective lenses. I doubt I do, since I don't have huge issues with blurriness, but I bet it is time to do something about where I'm at right now, at the very least. If I really want to read, I can catch up on the Arkady Renko books, since Dave T. has so kindly supplied me with everything out there that currently exists in the extraordinarily lucky Russian detective's adventures.

Now that I am getting past being cranky about L.A. in general, it's sort of shocking to me to look back and realize how stressed out I was. Each day, something about my current life reminds me, and I am so, so glad that I am no longer in that place. It's not even the same sort of pressure I felt in the last months before I left Chicago, but it still had the same sort of viselike grip, a perspective-altering sort of rollercoaster ride where the nausea lasts for weeks on end.

The vertigo is finally passing.

I also got a big box full of sweets from Australia, sent by my most excellent friend, Ali. I have chewed through most of the sour grape chews (Zappo), eaten a couple more of the cream-filled cookies than I should have, and crunched a few fizzy Fruit Tingles. I am all sugared up now, but also feeling the fizzy warmth of mailbox love. I look forward to being able to get back in the care package biz myself someday, because it's just as fun to send stuff out, I think.

While I ate dinner tonight, I watched some more Middleman eps on DVD. Man, I really love that show the more I watch it. Lots of pop culture references get dropped, and each time I watch an ep, I pick up one or two more. That show also did a really excellent job of preserving continuity, too: you could watch each ep separately, but if you were following the show intensely, they also threw in callbacks to previous events. Good times. Still sad it got canceled, though. I want to make an ARG for it.

Oh, and I can't quite decide if I find it vaguely irritating or totally hilarious that there is a Wilhelm scream in every single episode. It's very Where's Waldo?, and sometimes their choice of where to stick the sound cue is really quite clever and funny. Aw heck, OK, it's hilarious. And sometimes, there's more than one instance of the scream in an episode. It's very silly.
entelein: (rain)
Sunrise in Cary

This is a sunrise shot from my porch overlooking the small lake/pond out back. There are houses now, across the way, and so I can see their lights at this hour, as well as in the evenings as I am getting ready for bed. When I lived here before, most of those structures weren't even built yet. This area's hardly changed, but there so much new stuff, all at the same time.

Anyway, pretty. I miss the vanishing point of city streets compressing down to a tiny point in the distance, my breath in large cloud puffs in the cold winter air, waiting for the bus, hearing the rumble of trucks and car horns, etc., but this idyllic peaceful stuff is quite alright, too.
entelein: (yorda)
I picked up a tilapia filet on the way home, and cucumbers were fairly cheap, so I got one of those, too, along with a few other sundry things. It's really nice to have a decent grocery store on the way home from work - I can start to work in healthier meal options with little stress, because I have a natural aversion to making excessive trips out in the car. Too many years of city living has me feeling quite stubborn about going somewhere unless I can plan it out to a certain extent. I actually sort of resent not being able to hop onto a bus and have my brain to myself as I zoom along a massive grid system, yo. I miss it.

But the tilapia was $1.32 for a decent-sized filet, and I also got some polenta and some chicken sausages that have feta and spinach in them, of all things. I am excited about broiling those little guys and stir-frying some vegetables some time this week.

Making dinner tonight was comforting - I reheated part of the huge mass of breakfast style potatoes I had cooked up on Sunday and mixed up with a tofurkey italian sausage and a mess of chimichurri rice from TJ's and stuck that in a bowl, and sprinkled it all over the top with cold tiny chunks of cucumber that had been dill'd and lightly salted. The fish, quickly fried up in a small pan, got slid on top of all of that, and I watched two episodes of "The Middleman" as Squeaky lounged happily next to me.

"The Middleman" really gets to me, and I don't know why. It's an incredibly squeaky-clean show, which usually turns me right off because it so often feels like a bleach job on reality that leaves me as an audience member feeling marginalized and uninvited. I mean, OK, it's not generally a serious issue - it's entertainment - but it's gratifying to get my escapism from places that feel rooted in a life I recognize and relate to. Anyway. "The Middleman." It's goofy and silly and, like I said, pretty squeaky clean, although they do have a good healthy dose of the kind of double entendre that made "Veronica Mars" so enjoyable. I am sad the show didn't get renewed. It is super-charming.

And now I am sitting in my computer nook with my big dorky headphones plugged into my tiny iPod Shuffle (named Shuffleupagus), listening to songs that Dasro put on here the day I sent my car off on a trailer to California. We sat on the floor of my empty apartment and he took the Shuffle and put a huge swack of his library on it, and I still haven't cleared it off.
entelein: (tara)
I am feeling quite blue.
entelein: (ianto)
Sometimes, all it takes to get completely pelted with foam darts at work is to repeat the word "booty" several times.

High crimes and misdemeanors for THIS girl, dontcha know.
entelein: (kara)
Today was a day for reflection and an active indulgence in feeling somber and stuff.

I put more books on the shelves, and while I thought I got every box of books out of the storage space, there's still a few books I haven't seen yet, so they must still be lurking about. At any rate, the apartment is a sorry mess of small piles of things bumped right up against beautiful order and coziness.

It's a style.

I slipped into some serious old coping behavior, including playing some computer mahjong to pass the time and let my brain do its sorting out thing. At first, I was playing a crappy old mahjong game disc I bought years ago but never even unwrapped, much less installed. But this morning the laptop was giving spyware warnings related directly to this installation, so I wiped the registry clean of its effects, uninstalled, and put the disc at the top of the pile for things to be shredded. It was at this point, as I cast about for some other mindless game to play, that I discovered my laptop had a pre-installed mahjong application already, and a much nicer one, to boot.

As the tiles clicked and bleeped and whooshed away in pairs, I let my mind wander back to my days of kid-dom, and of the past year, and the possibilities for the future. The future still looks stupid (no one's fault, just, not feeling the focus I used to), but I found some pieces of foundation to rest my heart upon. Comforting.

I decided this evening that since there wasn't anything dessert-like in the house, that I should get something in honor of my Dad's late obsession with sweets. I decided on red velvet cake. The cupcake shops near me are closed on Sundays (CURSE YOU, THE SOUUUUUUUUTH), but I hoped Harris Teeter had something passable. And they did.

The grocery store was mobbed tonight, and all of the checkout cashiers looked appropriately overwhelmed and/or bemused, so I knew it wasn't just me. I sometimes convince myself that I live in a ghost town, because as a city girl, I am used to seeing people and hearing them all the damned time. When I lived in Chicago, they were on my doorstep, talking outside my windows, yelling out from their cars on the street, walking down the sidewalks, running errands, making the neighborhoods I lived in quite alive and soothing.

Here, everyone's protected and tucked away - the huge expanses of trees hide most streets from full view, and curvy little side roads and cul de sacs make everything detached. Mathematically, there is so very little chance of over-saturating any one area, know what I mean? And so everything here feels like a ghost town, a plastic pre-formed mall strip connected to some trees, and all it needs is for Christof to cue the daytime sequence.

Back to the store: Because it was going to take a while to get through the checkout queue, I took another spin through another aisle to pick up a few cans of tuna, which I'd forgotten from my list. I also got ridiculously happy over some 2-for-1 laundry detergent and fabric softener, in the brand I like, as well as unscented. I felt sort of sad about my bargain giddiness, but at least I won't have to worry about clean clothes for quite a while. Score!

I also found myself nerdily using the reading glasses kiosk eye test. A work conversation recently had me admitting that I'd never had my eyes professionally tested. I've always passed drivers license exams with flying colors, but sometimes when watching TV or reading, I get a tiny bit of blurriness (usually when I'm tired), and when reading, I find myself getting bored or impatient with a book. I wonder now if this difficulty in reading books is less my attention span, and more of an issue of reading just taking more effort now. So I turned the little dial on the light-up display, and picked out a pair of glasses that the dial indicated, and it was indeed a little bit shocking to notice how much less my eyes had to work to focus on text I was holding as close as I would hold a book.

And no, I didn't pick up a pair of the reading glasses. I will instead make it a small project to shop around for a reasonably-priced eye exam - not having insurance, the whole thing makes me feel super-stressed, but I would also really love to know reading again as a big hobby. Seeing the letters a bit sharper and more intense through cheap grocery store glasses was kind of inspiring.

So now I am home, and I have eaten cake, and I am all sugared up and feeling sort of sad, still. It might be time for some more mahjong, before prepping for the upcoming workweek.
entelein: (tl;dr)
Tonight is the one year anniversary of my Dad's final breaths. I was already back in L.A., huddled in my apartment, shook up by the visit to Houston to see him one last time.

That trip was hard, you might remember. He ... was skin and bones. I had no idea how much worse things would get - the last time he and I had hung out in Thousand Oaks, he was incredibly thin, but still able to type, able to utter medium-specific sounds that were easily-guessable words. At that point, he had a dry-erase board with a marker and a cloth. His girlfriend was stressed - so my time spent with him was an opportunity for her to get away, to be with friends, to spend time outside of a life filled with walkers and handrails and Dad being unpredictably ornery and frustrated and mean. When she would get back, she'd vent to me about how the situation was wearing her down, and she'd make frustratingly oblique comments about discussing "matters" with my brother. She made it quite clear that there was Official Business between them that I was not invited to. I kept a polite distance, and only asked after things that seemed safe to talk about.

I was still working insane hours in the fall when his girlfriend lost her shit and my brother had to fly out to take Dad to Texas. In a way, I had a career, finally, I had no personal life beyond a few gaming sessions with friends nearby, and I had a car that needed serious repairs, with no money nor time to fix them. I was pressured to feel very, very guilty about not braving the mountain pass and the terrible traffic all the way out west past Calabasas to the house where my Dad lived now, where he slowly stopped forwarding as many e-mails and unapologetically ate dessert (he was a health nut for many years, this was a source of HUGE amusement to me). And, I felt guilty. I was still running on sleep deprivation from work, and I was still living out of boxes from the move several months previous. I was straining to keep up with SoCal expenses, frustrated with the contractor pay I received for those few crucial months after I moved here when I really, really needed to be earning the salary that was promised.

When I saw him that last time in Texas, I felt utterly beaten by life. I'd lost my dream job, and my colleagues had moved on firmly without me, to my chagrin. Dad was a skeleton dressed in grey skin, his face showing bruising and abrasion from a bad fall he'd taken only recently. He was bandaged. He was incapable of any real specific utterances beyond groans or an exhalation of air with a bit of sound. His eyes still contained some expression. He still had surprising strength in his arms.

When I arrived for the first time at the home, I helped feed him some milkshake. My brother had established a routine of bringing and feeding Dad a vanilla milkshake every single day, in order to cajole him into taking any sort of sustenance. Dad was stubborn about holding the spoon, about guiding it. Unfortunately, his muscles did not always cooperate - his brain would go on autopilot or something, and he would pull, hard, and he would wave the spoon and slosh milkshake and then ram the spoon towards his mouth and I would firmly hold him back, praying he wouldn't gash his lip, break his teeth. Like the pudding and ice cream desserts he tore into in Thousand Oaks, these milkshakes were his concession to nutrition. Most of the other meals brought to him by the caretakers in the home went untouched.

My brother's wife had made a chicken dish my Mom made all the time when we were younger, and she brought a small portion of it that day for Dad to try, even though solid foods were incredibly difficult for him to enjoy, as they took effort his brain couldn't accomplish. But I got the honor of feeding him that first forkful - this baked, savory clump of breading and soup and chicken, and when Dad tasted it, his eyes welled up with tears and his eyebrows raised in surprise - the memory of this meal was so strong. It was a small bite, and, encouraged, I forked up another from the plastic container. But then the brain stubbornness kicked in, and the muscle memory, and the strength, oh my god, the strength, and the pushing away, and suddenly I was in a tug-of-war with my Dad, calm, but liable to turn bad quickly, so I quietly and politely asked the orderly sitting nearby to give me some help. A big, gentle bear of a guy, the nurse firmly pushed Dad's shoulders back and pried his hand from the fork and moved his arms safely out of the way. I put the container away. I asked the nurse to leave for a few minutes.

I said goodbye to my Dad. At the time, and even now, I feel like I said stupid things then. I babbled, I talked, I kept filling the room with words that were trite and stupid. These words that were waterbugs, skating on the surface. The pit of my stomach held a hot stone, with tears that threatened, anger at everything that was happening. Otherwise, I felt nothing. I said stupid things. I said goodbye in this fake voice like I was going to see him again soon, and suddenly I couldn't see anything - I was backing out of the room and tears were streaming down my face and I was smiling. I was smiling and waving and my Dad was already beginning to let his eyes droop, his body relaxing into sleep that he so frequently dropped into. It was easily the worst goodbye I have ever experienced in my entire life. It was nonsensical. It was backwards and wrong and stupid and had no pretty bow with which to tie things up.

+++

Back in California, I was lost, alone, cold, and incredibly worried about my future. I had some rent figured out - after all, the money I had saved up for self-employment taxes was just sitting there, doing nothing (sarcasm). I was able to write checks, but with every signature, I went further into future debt. Everything felt dark. I worried about my own brain stroking out, and I felt like my life was over. All of the momentum and direction and joy was squashed.

And then the call came on January 10th, just after midnight in California. My brother sounded incredibly tired, but he said that although things were rough for a short while, Dad went peacefully. And now that I think about it, that may have been the last time I talked to my brother by telephone.

I spent the next several months feeling so very conflicted over this entire situation. I started throwing things out from the boxes I hadn't unpacked since Chicago. I shredded so many pounds of paper. My grief was capitulation to the survival process. Instead of thriving and fighting, I succumbed to the instinctual tendency towards simply existing. I wasn't even numb. I just was. I cried in the shower, and I put on my easy public face for everyone I saw.

+++

Once I got the opportunity to come back to NC, I mustered up some motivation. Through the heat of the summer and the wildfires raging 5 miles from my apartment, I sweated and procrastinated my way through sheer moving hell as I coordinated this last move pretty much on my own. Every last box, barring the ones in my kitchen, were all packed by me. Every last phone call and freight arrangement were my daily tasks, my do-or-die. I had no idea if I was making a mistake, but at some point I decided I'd had enough with the fail, enough with the desiring of success. Mediocrity and predictability were alright by me. It was better than constantly revisiting the sight of bony, tiny Dad curled up in his hospital bed, of remembering in excruciating detail his hair all wild and bed-heady squashed on one side, incredibly white and wiry and needing a trim. The move was punctuated by filling my head with hours of television shows - all seven seasons of Buffy, all 5 seasons of The Office, and lots of zombie-killing video gaming. The course was set, and I was moving on, but I mostly felt nothing.

+++

And all this, to punctuate the day I arrived back here in North Carolina:

September 7th. My Dad's birthday. He would have been 65.

It was rainy, green, and smelled so sweet and cool. I was no longer coughing and stinking of woodsmoke, my world was no longer covered in ash. I was having dinner with dear friends at the Red Robin nearby, and I was sitting in an empty, air-conditioned apartment with a prowling torby cat later, talking to my Mom on the phone. And that's when I was told that my brother was, at that moment, in Hamilton, IL. Hamilton's my Dad's birthplace. My brother was there to spread Dad's ashes.

And it was the first I'd heard about it.

And while I suspect that there's work ahead for me regarding my family, I felt like, at that very moment, a chapter had been written and finished. There were things happening in the world where I wasn't wanted or considered, and I had to make a decision about how I felt about it. I am still not sure exactly what I decided, but once I managed to stop feeling quite so angry and hurt, I made it my focus to listen more closely to the life all around me here, where I am right now. Some days, I don't succeed. Nights like tonight, I feel just as awful as I did a year ago, shoulders aching with tension, grief spilling out of me at ridiculous moments.

The unexpected bombs drop, still - in fact, one happened just last night. On the way home from work, I picked up some veggies and two chicken breasts, intending to make a foil pouch dinner out of it all. Slicing up the potato and arranging the portabella and spices and splashing balsamic over it all was therapeutic, easy. But reaching into the drawer to get the foil, I gasped as I remembered Dad moving out of his condo to live in his girlfriend's house. I inherited a ton of kitchen supplies, including a ridiculous amount of plastic wrap and foil. I hardly go through the stuff anyway, so it all moved with me here. Today, I located my USB hub ... which was my Dad's, before he gave away most of his computer equipment when he moved.

I know this entry doesn't really hold together. I am mostly writing it so I can get it out of my head, where it's been festering all weekend. I went and read the entries of a year ago, and had a hard time keeping my shit together when I saw a supportive comment from Wolf. It's all too much, still. All this familial shit, and then the normal life stuff that happens, and me wondering when I'll ever come home.

But one thing I can be sure of is that my Dad died a year ago tonight, in the wee hours, and nothing will ever change that, or unmake it. It is stamped in a timeline. I can check my watch against it. It is done, and there is only now, there is only soon.

I am here, and I am going to have chicken leftovers and go cry some more.
entelein: (man walking)
I've been playing Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" a lot tonight. I am not sure why, exactly. The harmonies are very soothing, and its lyrics bring up interesting visuals for me, in conjunction with the sound of the music.

That Imogen Heap, she's got a good voice - rich, versatile, real, emotive.

I think part of it must be that I am trying to conjure up some nostalgia: I fell in love with this song right as I was moving here the first time, in April of 2007. It was also the song that magically appeared on the radio the day I knew I was going to be leaving Epic to go work at 42. It's a song that reminds me of how Springtime here smells and feels, and how my world sounded, and how it felt to be here with all of my Chicago furniture, my Chicago hair, my Chicago smile.

And I can't quite catch it back - everything is different now, even though it all feels like I never left. I mean, I really like my job, and I sort of enjoy hunkering down and being poor right now, because it is an excuse to just be quiet and solitary in this super-quiet place and catch my breath back after the whirlwind Hollywood-ness of yore.

Yet I still hit Play again, hearing the song again, trying to feel that sense of hope and forward motion. I think it was there once, in that song. I put it there, for safekeeping, but it's not keyed to me anymore. The me I am now. Maybe there's another song somewhere, a book, a game, a place, a sushi roll that contains this feeling. Maybe it's already here and I just haven't realized it yet. Maybe it's the jar candles I burn, maybe the scent of dryer sheets and clean laundry. Maybe it's the grocery store that's right down the street - the one they were building when I left. It's so nice to have that 24-hour grocery store right there, right down the street.

Things are not as dire in my head now than they were. It's easier to say that more publicly now - I had pretty much lost all hope, even as I ploddingly packed boxes and inwardly resented so many things. I often felt like my life was over. I was done. I had not accomplished, taken root, been betrothed to a life I understood. I had missed the boat, I had become unmoored, I was without a song or a place or a book or a scent.

Now? Nowadays, I just don't know much. All I do know is that I am not there anymore, in the dark smoky earthquakey wildfires of Nothingness.

This is the wood between the worlds.
entelein: (labyrinth)
http://www.glitterbook.com/2009/?p=44

Part of me thinks, girl, you need to get some new music, and another part of me thinks, I feel like I am always the last one at the party, picking up empty cups and streamers, wondering why it's only 9PM and everyone's already gone home.

That's what writing feels like right now. No real community anymore, no one's got a reason to stick around and spend a moment spinning yarns.

Everyone's moved on, and I am wearing a necktie and crown made of crepe paper, confetti, stuck all over with nametags of people who never showed up.

Which, really, only makes me want to make another ARG or something, if all these wells are dry, and/or no one's drinking anymore.

Also, this was the last Holidailies entry for this season, so if you click through, you'll get to see all the song lyric reveals for each entry title. EXCITEMENT!
entelein: (katee)
I just got this e-mail:


Excuse me for interrupting your day. I have been asked to infor you of the death of Bruce Cain-Whitlock.
Bruce became ill at home on December 9th was taken to Saint Francis Hospital. He passed away December 12 at
5:55pm that evening. His mother will be holding a memorial service sometime after the first of the year. I do not have her adss at this time but will forward to anyone wanting it. I can be contacted at:
michaelhowell1757@att.com

My sympathy to you.

Mike


For those of you who don't know, Bruce was a Puppetmaster for both Lockjaw and Metacortechs. He was (infamously and famously) the author for the character of Wongmo in the Metacortechs game.

I can't even think right now. oh my god.

I have no words. None at all.


edited to add: the email Mike provided bounced back when I tried to write to him, so I wrote back to Wolf's address to ask for memorial info. I'll post it here when I get it, as I am not likely to be able to make it.
entelein: (friendship)
I worked on a game with Ken Eklund last year called Ruby's Bequest. It was a strange game to work on, as I was dealing with my Dad having serious health and care issues, and how unprepared I was in virtually every way to contribute meaningfully to the last several months of his life.

There's a nice post-mortem up at IFTF of the project up here: http://www.iftf.org/RubysBequest

Later on in the document, there's a nice pull-quote from the character I wrote for the ARG, a kid named dr00. If you check the acknowledgements at the beginning, you'll see some very familiar names. :)

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