What I’m Into, February 2016

I’ve had a rough month for mental health.

It’s been hard to find joy in anything, including my usual hobbies of reading, watching movies and listening to music. I’m getting better, so don’t you worry, but I haven’t really been finding anything new and exciting to share with you. However, there have been some movies and TV shows that have been helping me through this difficult time.  I’d like to share three of those with you today.

Home

The first time I broke down this month and had to stay home from work I tried to watch Pixar’s Inside Out (2015). I found it too depressing and had to switch films. I put on Home (2015) instead. I’d seen this movie in the theater and liked it, but I loved it the second time around. This film only has a 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and I think that’s ridiculous. It is not simply colourful, silly and utterly benign, as the Rotten Tomatoes summary puts it, but has strong anti-colonialist themes (aliens come and decide Earth is theirs, re-characterising human technology as useless and primitive based on their standards, and relocating all the humans into one place) and themes about individualism versus collectivism. Of course, the film is colourful and silly as well. It was the perfect diversion for my depressed mind.

Murdoch Mysteries

I’ve spent a lot of time both at home and at my Grandmother’s, and a lot of that time has been spent watching Murdoch Mysteries. This Canadian series focuses around William Murdoch, a fictional detective for the Toronto Constabulary around the turn of the 19th century. Murdoch uses some anachronistic technology and other eccentric crime-fighting techniques to catch killers. Murdoch is assisted by his superior, Inspector Brackenreid, a gruff Englishman, Doctor Ogden, an intelligent woman doctor and Constable George Crabtree, an eager-to-learn policeman. The series is full of good mysteries and interesting characters, and paints a nice picture of old Toronto.

Abridged Series

I love abridged series, and I’ve been watching quite a few this month. They’re funny and quick, and an entire season can be devoured in an afternoon. They’re also good to put on in the background to listen to while doing other things. For those of you who don’t know, an abridged series is when a work of fiction is shortened and then made fun of, usually in video form. This is mostly done with anime (Japanese animation) series more than anything else, for whatever reason. These series are mostly found on youtube, which is where I find most of mine. My favourites are Yu-gi-oh! Abridged (as seen above), Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Hellsing Abridged, 50% Off and Justice League Abridged.

And that’s what’s been helping me through this month. Until next time,

 

God Bless,

Kelsey J.

 

PTSDiaries: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Today, I have both good news and bad news. The good news is that my PTSD symptoms have largely disappeared (leaving me with depression and anxiety to deal with but who’s counting?). Hurray! The bad news is that leaves my topics for PTSDiaries pretty limited. I thought that, since I’m in a position to now look back on my journey through the wilderness, I’d share some of the books, movies and music that helped me through. I’d like to start with one of the hardest books I’ve ever read: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. And I will be spoiling the book, so turn back if you don’t want to know Leonard’s secrets.

forgive me leonard peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is by Matthew Quick, the same author as Silver Linings Playbook. I really liked Silver Linings Playbook, so I knew I’d find at least something of value in the book. The synopsis is as follows:

            “Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.”

This book was hard. Trigger warning is an understatement. I sat on my bed and cried all the way through this book. Matthew Quick wrote a damn interesting and engaging character, and I felt like I was in his head. This was not easy, given, well, you read the synopsis. But this isn’t a book review.

It is revealed in the book that the reason Leonard has such hatred for his best friend, Asher, is that his best friend raped him. It is also hinted that Asher was molested by his uncle. Leonard suggests that “[he] thinks Asher wanted [Leonard] to save him.”

It really said something to me. Even though Asher was a horrible person and appeared to have everything, popularity, good parents, he was still battling this secret pain. A pain that he passed on to Leonard.

Should Leonard have “saved” Asher? Could he even have?

There is this idea that abusive and toxic people can be “saved” if you just love them enough. I know that’s not how it works. I know that no matter how much I loved R., which was a lot, it wouldn’t have saved him from the monster inside of him. Abusive people have to acknowledge that something is wrong with them and then seek help by their own free will, or else it just won’t work. Loving someone abusive will not save them. I’m sorry, but it won’t.

The most important thing the book made me realize, though, was this: there is no winning.

Despite the terrible things that Asher did to Leonard, he was still a victim too. He had to live with his inner pain and inner torment. Even though Leonard doesn’t kill Asher, Asher doesn’t win. He’s going to have to keep going with this pain forever.

I realized that there is no winning or losing in my situation with R. I may live with what he did to me, and it may be hard, but his life isn’t great either. I know that he dealt with his own secret pain. We both have to deal with it and keep going.

There is no winning. We’re both flawed human beings who are in a lot of pain. Getting better doesn’t mean that I’m winning; it just means that I’m getting better. Done.

In the end, I’m more like R. than even I could have seen. And it’s important to remember that.

Thank you, Matthew Quick.

Subverting the Superhero: Deadpool Review

So my partner and I went to see this movie on the weekend:

You may have heard of it.

If you haven’t heard of Deadpool, he’s Marvel’s merc with a mouth and one of comic’s best kept secrets (until now, of course). He hails from the X-men universe, and has crossed over with almost as many people as his more famous counterpart, Wolverine. Deadpool (aka Wade Wilson) is a mercenary, ex-Canadian black ops, and was given his powers by a shady organization that promised to cure his terminal cancer. The procedure does cure his cancer, but gives him horrible scars and leaves him mentally unhinged. Comics Deadpool is a violent, foul-mouthed anti-hero with next to no morals and a billion and one wise-cracks. He’s one of Marvel’s most unconventional characters, and he is loved by many fans. In the film, Deadpool’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the aforementioned shady organization and he must use all of his violent skills and wise-cracking to save her.

This isn’t the first time that Deadpool “graced” the big screen. He also appeared in X-men Origins: Wolverine (2009). While the fans loved Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of the character, some storytelling decisions were….well…really terrible. There’s no way around it. I’m not mad at you, X-men Origins: Wolverine. Just disappointed.

deadpool 2

As a massive X-men fan, and a Deadpool fan, I was looking forward to seeing the character redeemed. This time I was not disappointed. Good job, movie.

I’m going to try not to spoil the movie, because that would be unfair. There is one spoiler I will let slip through, though, because I think it’s awesome: Deadpool is from my hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan!

Regina

Was Deadpool a perfect movie? No. Was it a perfect Deadpool movie? It came damn close.

Let me explain. Deadpool’s general plot-line (man loves woman, man must save woman from bad guys) felt a little too formulaic. I would have liked to see the character’s unconventionality reflected in the plot-line that the writers chose to use. Of course, I understand the writers choice to stick to a familiar story–Deadpool himself is so odd and out there that I imagine the writers felt like they had to keep the story simple so that this wackiness could shine through. I understand, though it was a missed opportunity.

I would have also liked to see more call-backs to the X-men universe. I understand that the movie’s team would have wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from X-men Origins: Wolverine, but it should have been Weapon X that transforms Wade Wilson into Deadpool! That’s more of a nerd quibble than anything else.

deadpool 3

Deadpool is, at his core, subversive. He was created as a parody of the dark and gritty characters populating comics in the 90’s, and has been poking fun at anything and everything ever since. He’s He breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience. He recognizes that he’s in a comic book/fan fiction/movie/video game and will call out the writers. He is violent, sadistic and rude. And the movie nailed this. I can’t give too many examples of how this looks in the movie, but rest assured, it’s there. Lots of comics get this right. Whoop-dee-dee. He’s funny and violent, big whoop. What made this movie one of the best portrayals of Deadpool is that the movie made this character human.

A trait of the alpha-male comic book hero that many critics have called out is a lack of vulnerability. Deadpool can often veer into this too. However, this film shows Deadpool’s vulnerabilities. He’s insecure about how he looks after the procedure. He has affection for other characters, including his best male friend, Weasel, and his roommate, Blind Al. He also goes through horrible things and survives, but barely. He’s a human being.

This isn’t seen enough in comic book movies, and I was so happy to see it in Deadpool.

So was it a perfect movie? No, but it did give one of the most three dimensional portrayals of a comic book character that I’ve ever seen.

deadpool 4

God bless,

Kelsey J.

Gasp! 3 Monster Mashups!

Pride, Prejudice and Zombies opened up on February 5th, 2016 to mixed reviews that veered ever so slightly to the negative side. The film also disappointed at the box office, making about half of what it was projected to make. I haven’t seen the movie yet (perhaps when it gets to the cheap theater) nor have I read either the novel the film was based on or the novel that the novel was based on. Yes, it’s true, I’ve never read a Jane Austen book. You may commence the tomato throwing.

All done? Good. Let’s continue.

There’s something inherently fascinating about taking popular figures and adding monsters, outside of the Halloween special. On an anecdotal note, I know lots of writers who heard of the premise of PPZ and immediately became sort of offended, and raved against the very idea. I hate to disappoint (no I don’t, this post is a day late), but taking popular figures plus monsters has been around for a long time. But what makes these absurd premises work?

  1. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Abbott and Costello

 

  • Abbott and Costello met a lot of monsters, crossing paths with The Mummy, Frankenstein(‘s creature), the invisible man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • The best reviewed film is Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
  • It’s also the first in the series of Abbott and Costello’s monster misadventures
  • Preserved by the US Library of Congress
  • Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein’s creature, the wolf man and Dracula, all in one fun-filled film
  • These films worked because they were silly and didn’t take themselves seriously

2. Marvel Zombies

Marvel Zombies

  • At the height of the zombie craze Marvel unveiled a new series: Marvel Zombies
  • In this series, an unidentified being crash lands on a parallel Marvel Universe (one of many) and infects the Avengers, leading to the Avengers becoming ravenous zombies while still retaining their intellect and personality
  • The zombies have many adventures, mostly involving eating, and eventually gain the power cosmic and eat literally everyone in the universe
  • Critics agree that the plot makes no sense, and that the story is silly, but, like Abbott and Costello, that’s what makes the story work

3. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

 

abraham lincoln vampire hunter

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was inspired by Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, so I thought it was only fair that I include it in my list
  • In this tale, young Abraham Lincoln’s parents are killed by vampires, who are revealed to be behind slavery in America
  • It is up to Abraham and his friends to stop the evil scourge of vampires
  • This movie makes no fricking sense
  • According to critics, The film has a very serious tone for a whacky premise, and the historical drama side and the vampire movie side never quite meet in the middle
  • Similar things were said about Pride, Prejudice and Zombies

 

So what can we learn from these mash-ups? Is it possible to create a serious work of art from a silly premise? Let me know in the comments!
God Bless,

Kelsey J.

Attack of the Mary Sue: Reviewsday Tackles GeNext

In 2008, Marvel Comics decided to do something a little bit different with the X-men. They conceived a timeline where the X-men aged in real time, and in the year 2006 the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters was made up of the children and grandchildren of the original X-men (and Fantastic Four). The series was entitled GeNext. The series follows continuity up through X-Men Vol. 2 #3, completely skipping over the Dark Age. That’s right, folks–according to Chris Claremont, this is a series where the 90’s never happened.

Issue two of the series finds a mysterious girl called No-Name, the Grandson of Colossus, a girl from the Savage Land, the grandson of Reed and Susan Richards, and the son of Rogue and Gambit dealing with teenage angst–X-men style. The comic begins with No-Name and Colossus’s Grandson, Pavel, sharing a few romantic moments, before No-Name receives an odd phone call and unexpectedly leaves the campus. Her friends go after her and fight a gang of mutants known as the Shockwave Riders, who use technology to enhance their natural abilities and who apparently know No-Name.

The story of the GeNexters is very short, and the rest of the comic is taken up by a comic about the original x-men and a surprise party for their lone female member, Jean Grey. I wasn’t expecting the actual cover story to be so short, and I was a little bit disappointed. There wasn’t much to the story of Jean Grey’s happy birthday either, and it ends with Jean Grey getting drooled at by her male teammates in a brand new costume. I was way more invested in the teenagers.

The art is gorgeous. I particularly liked the cover, by artist Doug Alexander Gregory. My favorite, favorite part of the comic was these little black and white sketches done around the panels, done as a sort of introduction to the characters and as a “where are they now” of the X-men. I loved this. I thought it was so clever to have this done, instead of straight-up telling the readers these details.

20160209_114354

When I read the synopsis, I expected the story to have a fanfiction-esque quality to it. The story did and it didn’t read like fanfiction. The comic, in true X-men style, is an entertaining mixture of teenage drama and high-stakes action. Despite starting at Issue Two, I knew exactly what was going on. Some of the parentage wasn’t obvious, but the reader didn’t need that to understand the story. However, the characterization left a little bit to be desired. After the “look! It’s Rogue’s child! Look! It’s Colossus the third!” factor there wasn’t a lot to the characters.. The only characters who really got any development were Pavel and No-Name. I was willing to forgive this, because I know this is only one part of a series, but it still would have been nice to see a bit more of the characters other than their fighting ability. That being said, Pavel is well developed and is given a nice little exchange with No-Name.

No-Name was one of my main problems with this comic. She isn’t a bad character, per say, but she reads a little too much like a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue, for those of you who are fortunate enough to never have encountered one, is a character who is perfect, who all the other characters like, and who often has a tragic backstory. This character is often an author self-insert, though I really doubt that this is the case with No-Name. She’s just really perfect. Everyone likes her for no apparent reason–not that she’s a bad person, you just never see any of the characters other than Pavel interact meaningfully with her. The story revolves around her, and she seems just a little bit too “mysterious” and has a mysterious secret past and her telepathic scan was inconclusive and ugh. I’m not really sure what her character’s role in the story is other than someone to get everyone else riled up about saving her, and I don’t like that. I think it could have been done better.

That being said, I would read more of this series. I enjoyed the action and the artwork and, while I feel that the characterization has room for improvement, the rest of the story works on its own merits.

 

Comic Credits:

 

Artist:  Norman Lee (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Doug Alexander Gregory (cover art)

Writer: Ed Dukeshire (letterer), Mark Paniccia (editor), Jordan D. White (assistant editor)

Other such things: Joe Quesada (editor in chief) Dan Buckley (publisher)

Free Book!

I apologize for the brevity of this post. The week kind of ran away with me, and I’m struggling to catch up in all aspects of my life.

How about a gift?

Just a few days ago I self published a free book of poetry on Smashwords. It’s made up of the best poems of 2015 from my poetry website, Nothing Gold Poetry. My poetry comes from my heart and my soul, and this book is just a little piece of that. The poems in this book will make you feel.

Enough prattling. I should just get to the book.

You can download it here from Smashwords. I humbly ask that if you enjoyed the book, you leave a review.

That’s all for this week, folks. See you next week.

 

God Bless, and enjoy the book,

Kelsey J.

Closure.

Nothing Gold Poetry.

I keep checking my email
Even though I know that I didn’t get the job

Because I have trouble letting go of things.

I crave closure like a drug.

I keep waiting for you to text me

Even though I know that your life

Never had room for one more person.

I have trouble letting go of people

Even though I know that I should

Saw off the anchor

And finally watch them drift away.

I crave closure

like a drug addict craves the days

Where they didn’t need anything but the high they got from life to get by.

I crave closure

Like you crave alcohol.

I crave closure

Like you crave other things that I won’t say because

Fuck you

This isn’t about you.

I keep checking my mail

Even though I know that the poem is rejected

Because I have trouble with putting things out into the…

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