Archive for July, 2012

Book Review: Atlas Shrugged

Today I finally finished Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Having done so, I can say with full honesty that it is the best book I have ever read in my life. I am not exaggerating. It has replaced The Lord of the Rings, the book that was my #1 for about the last 10 years.

No other book caused me to think more about how society has conditioned our morals. I went into the book agreeing with most of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, but I came out having learned more, and agreeing with nearly all of it.

No other book invoked as much emotion in me as Atlas Shrugged had. I literally, yes literally, as in I actually did all of these things while reading the book, burned with frustration, laughed to myself and cried tears of joy. I cried tears of joy because what I was reading was so beautifully written and true. It was comparable to seeing the pure irrefutable truth one finds in a math proof. Ayn Rand’s logic is flawless. The things that were written were things I have believed, but was not able to express in words.

No other book has made me value myself and the human spirit to the degree Atlas Shrugged has. This was what had the biggest impact on me. I didn’t realize that I had trouble allowing myself to be happy and believing that I had the right to be happy. Now I can completely accept that because I’ve read and understood the logic behind it.  She also has the best philosophy of love, “Love is the expression of one’s values, the greatest reward you can earn for moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another,” it means more to know you are loved by someone because you’ve earned it because of who you are, not because they simply gave it to you.

I loved the characters. I loved the plot. I loved the philosophy. This is the best book ever and you must read it if you are to fully appreciate life.  There are hundreds of quotes I could have picked to end this with, but I’m going with the one below, if you’ve read the book you’ll understand. If you haven’t, get on it, you won’t know what you’re missing until you’ve read it.

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

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Dr. Scholl’s Massaging Gel Insoles (courtesy of BzzAgent)

As a BzzAgent, I get to try out new products for free or at a massive discount in exchange for sharing my honest opinion of them with others.  Most recently I got to try Dr. Scholl’s Massaging Gel Insoles for free.

I was really excited to try these out for AnimeNEXT, one of my local anime conventions. Having been to a number of conventions before, I know the toll they take on feet, especially when you’re in a costume that doesn’t permit you to wear a pair of comfy sneakers.

Along with the flats I wore to the convention, I also tested out the insoles on a pair of sneakers (running), and another pair of flats.

The Postivies: 

– They worked really well in both pairs of flats and didn’t slip around much. The best thing was that they took a lot of pressure off of my heels. I’ve often loathed walking on concrete in flats for that reason and these insoles make it more bearable. Also one of my dogs has a thing for taking insoles out of shoes, but she hasn’t gone for these. I think she prefers the foam ones. This isn’t something that applies to everyone, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

The Negetives: 

-They don’t really offer any arch support or work well in shoes that don’t have much extra space in them. My feet felt way too tight when I wore them in my sneakers.

In the end, I’d recommend this product more for wearers of flats or dress shoes rather than sneakers since you’ll probably have more space in flats, and sneakers are pretty comfortable to begin with. They’re also not a bad idea if you’re planning on going to any large convention, or event where you’ll be walking a lot on non-carpeted floors. I’m definitely looking forward to wearing them to New York Comic-con this October.

If anyone would like a coupon for $5, let me know, I still have plenty of them!

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Pumpkin Update

Remember that pumpkin plant I blogged about a little while ago here? Well I just picked the first one today!

And I’ve got a second one on the vine that I’ll pick sometime this week. I hope the vine puts out more female flowers after I pick that one so I can get even more pumpkins! Muhahaha!!

I’m just hoping the first one wasn’t picked too early. I read if you pick them too early they’ll rot in a few days D:

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I Wish It Was October

Living in New York, I’ve learned that there aren’t many constants. Even in the outer boros, they’re hell bent on developing neighborhoods and destroying the character they once had. You find places you used to like go out of business or move or something else. There’s hardly anything you can get attached to without having the fear of it being ripped away. I know, there are countless things and places I’ve seen vanish, but I will not dwell on them now. But there are a few constants, each has a dear place in my heart, one of them, is New York Comic Con.

Any comic convention is a place of safehaven for nerds. They’re places where you can be whatever you want to be and for once feel like you truly belong. But NYCC has a special extra factor. Friends and acquaintances a like go, seeing the flood of facebook statuses leading up to the event build the anticipation. It’s our local event, I guess you could compare it to your home team (but we hardly have that in NY, seeing  as how many Queens people I know that support the Yankees), it doesn’t just bring one boruough together, but the whole city. Sure hoards from Jersey probably go, but that is beyond the point. It’s a reunion for geeks and more than that. Even if you don’t see all of your friends there you look though each others facebook photos, it’s like going to the convention for a second time.

Then there’s the magnet effect. I love leaving the house in cosplay to take public transport there. Getting on the bus I get stares, less on the first train, even less on the second train. The closer you get to the Javits center, you see other people who you know are going to the convention. Even if they aren’t in costume, there’s something about their state of dress… not even, you can just feel it. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. After you emerge from the subway, there are way more people in costume. It’s great, if you forget your way to the convention, you can always just follow people that you *know* are going.

Now of course the convention is totally disorganized, and people are assholes and it gets way overcrowded, but even I have hope that they’ll improve. They seem to be trying to compete with SDCC, and they’ll have to get more organized in order to do so.

I love NYCC, the things you can see there that you can’t see anywhere else. The only downside is that it comes but once a year and post convention depression always follows.  Of course, that depression fades with anticipation for the next convention, where ever it may be. But there’s nothing quite like riding the subway in cosplay, and overcoming the awkwardness and feeling more empowered than you’ve ever felt before. I wish it was October.

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Review: The Amazing Spider-man

Disclaimer: You should know I find problems with everything, but seeing as I’ve actually read these comics and am a die hard fan, you should expect me to find A LOT. I also think I did a pretty good job with keeping this spoiler-free.

Where do I even begin? I guess I will tell you what I enjoyed.

Stan Lee had the most awesome cameo ever. I love him. Also, they did a great job with the Lizard, and the Lizard was an excellent choice of villain. Flash Thompson was in this movie which I liked. They also get props for getting a skinnier guy to play Peter Parker. Also they fixed the problem the last movies had with the web-shooters. I’m not totally happy with it, but it is much more acceptable.

Now for all of my problems. And I’m not even going to touch scientific inaccuracies.

Problems With the Origin: 

I knew I would find problems, but I still had to see it because Spider-man. The *very* first thing I noticed were the liberties they took with his origin story. What was the most irritating was the “new” stuff they added in, and their rewriting of how Uncle Ben died. And of course they *had* to rewrite the spider bite. Because a nerd going to a museum to watch a radioactive laser by himself is too lame.

Problems with the Characters:

They got a smaller guy to play Peter Parker which was a plus, but they made him, well, hipster like almost. They made him a cool nerd that started off wearing contacts who’s into photography. There’s really no mention of him being into science, except for when he comes off as a “cool” techie.

Aunt May and Uncle Ben were crummy. The last two were better. They even had Uncle Ben slip in some liberal agenda about how if you have the ability to do good for others, you are morally obligated to do so. Ayn Rand disagrees.

J.J.J was completely absent.

In the first movies, it would have made more sense to use Gwen Stacy since the Green Goblin was the main villain. In this movie it would have made more sense to use Betty Brant because the Lizard was the villain. Goblin kills Gwen, Lizard kills Betty’s brother.

Problems With the Setting: 

In general, the movie didn’t have a strong New York City feel like the comics always did, but let’s talk about Queens.

Wherever Peter lived did not look like Forest Hills. Hell, they only even mentioned “Queens” once. In one scene he was riding the Q train home, that train does not go to Forest Hills, that train goes to Astoria. Yes, he could have transferred but given his state at the time I don’t think he was capable.I have always taken great pride that Spider-man hails from Queens and these idiots had to ruin that. It’s almost like he’s one of our local wackos, sort of like the Flushing Pimp (R.I.P), or that gay old rainbow guy with the poodles who shows up at every parade in the city, or the happy train man in Brooklyn, except that Spider-man is sane. Maybe that wasn’t the best example, but as those wackos are a part of the city, Spider-man is a part of the city in my heart. I am honored we are natives of the same borough.

I honestly do not think the people involved with making the movie came from New York, or were die hard fans of the comics, if they were, shit like this wouldn’t happen.

Problems With Everything Else:

I saw this movie in 2D, because 3D is stupid, but I could tell which scenes were supposed to be in 3D. Some of the action parts may have looked cool, but they went overboard with the 3D science hologram computers. Seriously, they aren’t that cool.

There was also a part of the movie towards the end that was *really* contrived. Won’t go into detail because it is a spoiler, but when you see it you will know because it’s really damn contrived.

And That’s it.

Now I’m just left with a hole in my heart, mourning the fact that they will never make a Spider-man movie set in 1963.

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Remembering Hey Arnold!

Does anyone else remember Hey Arnold?

I grew up watching it. I didn’t like it as much as Rugrats, but I still liked it. Recently I started watching it again. I was really surprised to find that now I like that show so much more than I did as a kid, I didn’t realize how much meaning it had and couldn’t appreciate all of the comedy. And I’m sorry but this is gonna be a long one XD, if you don’t feel like reading all of it, please scroll down to the last paragraph, it probably has the most important information.

As a child, I empathized with Helga whenever she was in awkward situations. There was a boy I was mean to. I liked him but I didn’t realize it then, was in denial about that for a pretty long time to. I remember realizing in I think, 7th grade, that if you like someone you should be nice to them… the thought makes me laugh. But I also now find Helga incredibly hilarious. It’s almost like I’m laughing at my past now that I’ve moved forward.

There are people online who are all “why doesn’t she just tell Arnold?” Those people are idiots. I was in her position. You do not tell. You just don’t tell. Not to mention the fact that everyone will make fun of you if they find out. Also, with respect to the show, you wouldn’t have the show if Helga was able to tell him. That was what made it so funny. Who could forget her Arnold shrines or all of the times she broke into his house or how she’d sneak away to take out her locked and fawn over him? It was hilarious, especially how she wished she could be nice to him, and even tried at times, but just couldn’t do it.

But I realized more about Helga from watching the show now. She is quite possibly the best cartoon character who never lived. She doesn’t change who she is to conform to what’s normal, or to win over Arnold. When she dressed up as Lyla she realized that Arnold liked spending time with her because she was being like Lyla, and didn’t want that. She wanted him to like her for who she was. In that episode when she becomes the “it” girl, and she acts nice to get fried, Arnold tells her he liked seeing her act nice, without even a second thought she says she won’t do that anymore because it’s not who she is. There was also that time she girl’d up to go to Rhonda’s party and then realized it was stupid.

Are you familiar with the term tsundere? It’s used to describe a character, often in an anime, who acts rough on the outside, but is really a softy deep down. Normally said character is an attractive female, they normally say things like “Baka! It’s not like I like you or anything! I’m doing this because I want to!” or they’ll be embarrassed to like something that’s cute or a hobby they have or some other stupid thing. It’s funny that the Japanese invented the term, because Helga is by far, the best tsundere ever. I can’t even describe how in words but she is. She puts all others to shame, she does a much better job.

Something else I realized about Helga, is how dysfunctional her family is. As a kid I mostly got the impression that her mom was always tired, and her dad wanted her to be her sister. Now I’m pretty sure her mom was an alcoholic. She was *always* drinking those smoothies. Sometimes she had brief moments of bonding with her family, but they didn’t seem to last long. It’s the perfect explanation as to why she’s such a psycho. Liking Arnold is probably one of the best influences she has in her life because of what a good kid he is. I rewatched the movie, at the end of the movie, he offers Helga an escape from her confession by saying something along the lines of “we were under a lot of pressure, things were intense back there, you really hate me right?” He knows it was the truth, but still gave her the opportunity to save face.

Anyway, moving beyond Helga, Hey Arnold! had so many other memorable characters. As a kid his grandparents were my favorite characters. And who can forget all of the regulars, Gerald, Phoebe, Harold, Rhonda,  Eugene, Brainy, etc. ? But even some of the characters who didn’t show up so much, or only had *one* episode were amazing. I think pigeon man only had one episode, but his episode was probably the most profound in the entire series. I also love how many references they make to Shakespeare and classical music and other things kids simply aren’t being taught in school these days. Hey Arnold! really is an amazing show, but it lacks one thing, a true ending.

Did you know, the movie that aired in theaters was meant for TV, and that the movie that was going to be made for theaters was going to pick up where the last episode of Hey Arnold! left off? The last episode was the one where he found his father’s journal with a map inside. We were going to find out what happened to his parents. But the first movie didn’t make enough money, so they axed it. But the good news, is the shows creator, Craig Bartlett is willing to make the movie if Nickelodeon wants it made. Here’s a link to a facebook group trying to get that movie made. http://www.facebook.com/groups/SaveTheJungleMovie/ please join it. Hell I’d be more than happy with a hour special at this point. Nickelodeon, if you are reading this, PLEASE MAKE THE JUNGLE MOVIE!

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