retsuko: (love this show)
I will admit that I was pretty psyched to see that all my favorite shows (with the exception of "V") are coming back this fall, and am looking forward to reconnecting with beloved plotlines and characters I love to love (or love to hate, as the cases may be.) Without much further ado:

House: I really, really hope that this season has our misanthropic hero back to his normal old misanthropic self, except for the times when he's with his new love interest. Because, really? I tune in to this show to see Hugh Laurie acting like a bastard. I really don't give a damn about contrived moral and ethical dilemmas, and I would prefer not to see adorable children or pregnant women in peril. The appeal of this show largely lies in Laurie's impeccable delivery of insults to people who (most of the time) deserve them. In fact, 90% of the time, House acts as my Greek Chorus, confirming my beliefs that everyone on a dramatic TV show lies (because, if they didn't, where would the episode go??) and saying snide and inappropriate things to people who've behaved in bad ways. And it's all very cathartic, and snicker-worthy, and I am very pleased. In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed this premiere episode because of its departure from the usual formula, and because of Lisa Edelstein's very wonderful performance. She and Laurie have amazing chemistry and watching them interact was more touching than I expected. So, yay for "House"! Now, like I said before: no more adorable children in peril plots, please! I can't stand them anymore.

In the guilty pleasure department, there is Hellcats, which is arguably one of the stupider shows I could be squandering my time on. But my pregnancy-addled brain that craves simplicity and safe excitement is completely sold. Or at least it was, until last night's plot line, in which our main character effectively practiced law without a license in order to show her meanie/hawt law professor that his assignment wouldn't get the better of her. (Meanie Prof assigns her a "top secret" project: research X case and report to him about it; said case doesn't exist, so Main Character and Annoying Fellow Student file a complaint themselves on behalf of the named party, so the case *will* exist. Ha! Take that, meanie prof!*) For some reason, this egregious storytelling error got me all flustered and annoyed afterwards. I like my guilty pleasure TV to be free of real life implications in all major ways, and this was a pretty major real life deal-breaker. You think I'd be more invested in complaining about the utter lack of feminist deconstruction of the whole "cheerleading is empowering!!~!@1!" line of the plot, or the part where everyone on the show is ridiculously good-looking. (Seriously! It's like Derek Zoolander was in charge of the casting! There was even break-dance fighting in this last episode!) But no, what really annoys me is the law thing... well, that's where my brain is now, anyway. Anyway. Will I watch again next week? Given my brain power at the moment, survey says... most likely. Maybe some cheetos will improve the viewing experience...

* I also hate the storytelling trope of the Impossible Assignment. I have given open-ended assignments to my classes before, and ones that I knew were difficult, but not impossible to actually to do. Giving students an assignment that's literally impossible to finish/complete (without resorting to cheating), in order to "teach them a lesson" about failing and build character? Bitch, please. Way too arrogant for words.
retsuko: (gert w/ dinosaur)
I simply cannot believe that it's over. At least this year, I knew that there would be that a sense of "Oh, the real world is boringly mundane compared to this!" It felt weird to be downtown again the next day, but without any sense of impending fun, just work.

The highlights: As always, the highlights were seeing friends (yay, [ profile] ashears and [ profile] psychoe!) and the smaller, lower key areas of the Con, like the Small Press area, the Independent Press tables, and Artist's Alley. The contact with artists and writers that those places allows is just amazing and personal, and it's something that I cannot get anywhere else at any other time of year. It's one thing to read a favorite web comic, but it's another to tell the artist what you think and have him respond in just the way you hoped. And it's great to find some awesome vendor selling neat artwork who you hadn't known about before, but there they are. And, most amazing of all, it's wonderful to hear about technique from people involved in almost every part of production. I had a very interesting conversation with a woman in Artist's Alley about her job inking, and how difficult that truly is.

The other tremendous highlight is the simple pleasure of nerdish comradeship. [ profile] psydolivia and I were sitting in a park on Wednesday afternoon last week, waiting for things to get started, and another woman saw O's t-shirt and said in a friendly tone, "Hey, Browncoat Girls!" This is the one time out of the year when people get the references on my t-shirts or pins, and appreciate them (or at least don't actively mock them.) I say that I recharge my nerd batteries, and that sounds a little facetious, but it's true: each year, I leave the Con feeling better for having been there, and like I can tackle whatever's coming up in the following year because I got my nerdish persona on.

Best Swag: I got one of the HUGE BBC America bags with Doctor Who on one side, but this was mostly because I asked for it nicely and didn't pester the staff at the booth. (I kept missing the times when they were actually handing them out.)

The "lowlights": Moderating skills, learn you some! )

Hallmark Cards Ruined ComiCon. )

On being at the Con while pregnant and looking to the years ahead: I had been antsy about attending while pregnant and quickly tried to get a bead on where disability services was in relation to where I was. (Not that I am disabled, of course, but the program did clearly state there was a rest area for nursing and expectant mothers.) But for the most part, I was careful and it paid off. I didn't ever get the point where I was so exhausted I had to sit down or felt dizzy; I kept hydrated and ate lots of little snacks along the way. Probably, if this had happened a little later in the pregnancy, I would have had a worse time of it.

Of course, I was mindful of the "end product", so to speak, as [ profile] yebisu9 and I strategized about what we would do next year. (This year was our last time to do all four days.) I encountered a woman with her 5-month-old, who assured me several times that "coming to the Con with a little one is fine! He's no trouble!" As she was saying this, the kid was starting to wail, and not the "oh, I am fussing for attention now, and will stop soonish" kind of cry, but a serious "you're gonna PAY" cry. I thought this woman had a somewhat unrealistic view of the situation, although it was nice that she was trying to be kind to me. But, frankly, I saw far too many people with very, very young children (the youngest being 8 weeks old!). And I will try not to be horribly judgmental with this next sentence, but: Kids younger than five should not attend the Con. (Oh, who am I kidding? That was totally judgmental. Well. Anyway.) There's far too much for them to take in, and making other attendees contend with their tantrums, strollers, and assorted kid paraphernalia is not fair to any of the involved parties, including the kid. This is not to say that I want a militantly childfree stance on the part of the Con, and I understand there are parents who do make it work (although at their own great expense). I do realize that the Con offers childcare, too. But I think that some parents really need to reevaluate their own entitlement to a fannish experience, especially in respect to simple courtesy to other participants--a screaming child in a small panel or a double stroller in the Exhibit Hall is not acceptable.

As for the rampant speculation about where the Con will end up after the contract ends in 2012: if it goes anywhere else, that's it. We won't attend anymore. We can't afford the tickets AND the hotel AND the parking/travel costs AND the food in another city. (I do realize we've been tremendously lucky until this point.) If it stays, we will definitely continue going, although likely in a much truncated fashion, as we'll be dependent on the goodwill of Grammy and Grandpa to look after Little Squeak.

Still, screaming kids, rampant capitalism, and extreme fatigue aside, it was entirely worth it. I had so much fun, and I cannot wait to go again next year, in whatever way I can.
retsuko: (book love)
In Movies:

Babies: I would have been curious to see this movie even if I were not pregnant, and I was not disappointed. There is some gorgeous photography in this movie, whether of wide open spaces (Africa and Mongolia, and the Tokyo skyline) or of intimate moments between children, parents and children, or children and their environments. The two main complaints I've heard about this movie are that it's too cute and that it's too boring (two contradictory criticisms), both of which I am pleased to be able to refute. While this movie was made by the same people who were responsible for "March of the Penguins", the pervading sense of cute of that movie is not in this one. In "Babies", there's no narration or subtitles--the speech of the families of the children fades into a pleasant background noise, because it's not important to any of the stories. And while there are cute moments, these do not dominate the stories onscreen, and they're not augmented with cute music cues; they are simply cute moments that happen and are quickly contrasted with less cute experiences--frustration! Rage at injustice! It's hard to be a kid! As for boring... well, this depends on the viewer, I suppose. But I was fascinated to see the differences in parenting, in standards of living, and in the children these environments produced. The babies in Mongolia and Africa are left to fend for themselves (often in the company of siblings, who don't always make the best babysitters) for longer periods of time than their American or Japanese counterparts. The American child lives a life surrounded by books and toys, but she seems no happier or better off than the other children, who improvise toys and pets from the animals they're surrounded with. (The animals featured in this film are some of the most patient cats and dogs on the entire planet.) The film's final shot (the Mongolian boy's expression of triumph as he pulls himself up to stand on his own two feet for the first time) is a beautiful reminder of the universal human experience--we were all that small once, and we all learned to navigate the world in our own ways. This is not a boring or overly cute movie. It's a celebration of things we share and that make us human.

In Manga:

Kingyo Used Books, Volume 1, Text/Art by Seimu Yoshizaki: Speaking of universal experiences, reading is one of them that I understand and celebrate on a daily basis. Kingyo Used Books is a love letter to manga, reading, and the shared bonds that stories afford us. The Kingyo Used Book store specializes in manga and caters to a knowledgeable and nostalgic clientele. It's staffed by eccentric weirdos (the reclusive Shiba-san, who loves all things comic-related) and one incredibly efficient and kindly manager (Natsuki-san, who parcels out her manga industry knowledge with a cheerful, knowing look). Each of the stories is a stand-alone idea, centered around a particular manga and how it changed one reader's life. The most effective of these stories is the first in the collection, about a businessman who's thinking of selling off his manga collection because he should be reading "more grown-up" things. Then he attends his elementary school class reunion party and the evening turns into a massive nostalgic conversation about the manga they all read, loved and discarded. In the end, he takes the entire group to the used bookstore and his friends enthusiastically reminisce as they find the long-lost volumes. " remember the past is to know the truth of your present. Knowing what your heart is made of. That's what they're all remembering." Natsuki wisely observes. The artwork in this book is excellent, as are the cultural notes at the back (although they are the author's original observations about the manga themselves, just translated.) I highly recommend this, especially if you can find the out-of-print manga that Yoshizaki references!

In Books:

My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme: It's a credit to Prud'homme's editing and writing skills that this book holds Child's voice for the duration of the entire story. And it's a credit to Julia herself that the story is so funny, so engaging, and so passionate. I can understand why she fell in love with France and French cooking, and the world is better for it.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: My Adventures in Life and Food, by Moira Hodgson: Hodgson's father was in the British foreign service, and as a child, she spent time in Egypt, Beirut, Lebanon, Saigon, Berlin, Sweden, and her native Britain, looked after by her strong-minded Irish grandmother. It's unsurprising that she grew up to be a food critic for The New York Observer. The book also includes recipes, some of which would be difficult to reproduce now (her grandmother's wartime recipes for making assorted puddings during the rationing don't look hard to make, but the ingredients are somehow foreign and often very improvised.) I also love the title, too, although so far, there haven't been any real disasters in the narrative that explain its origin. :)

Pregnancy Books talk: The first book I read was Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth, which was pretty much exactly as I expected: honest, to-the-point, and highly political. The anatomical drawings and diagrams in this book are very explicit and while this was/is helpful to me, [ profile] yebisu9's facial expression when he first came upon one was priceless. I've since received a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting, which is somewhat heteronormative ("Just because we use the words "father-to-be" doesn't mean we're excluding anyone! Mentally fill in your own words for what you are!") but very helpfully laid out in month-to-month format. It has been incredibly reassuring to me in several instances, and I like the calm tone that pervades throughout. I just got a copy of Baby Bargains, which is also written with a large grain of down to earth salt.

In an ironic note, in order to get free shipping from, I ordered the first baby book along with a copy of On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears, by Stephen T. Asma. This literary double feature has been amusing me ever since, although the chapter on deformed fetuses was so horrible that I could not read it. (Definitely a shift in my mental outlook; a year ago, such a chapter would not have bothered me at all.) Fortunately, the rest of Asma's book is accessibly written and engaging. He traces the mythological evolution of monsters, religious and secular, through history and especially in their modern, horror-movie permutations. Worthwhile, although the illustrations and photos are somewhat jarring if you turn the page without thinking.

Life Announcement!

Saturday, April 24th, 2010 10:06 am
retsuko: (Default)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an announcement: I am pregnant! [ profile] yebisu9 and I are expecting a baby with the current due date of November 1st. So far, everything looks fine and all tests are coming back "normal", which is a word that I hope to hear a lot of in the next months. We are planning to find out the sex as soon as possible, providing the fetus poses for us correctly at the next ultrasound.

Now that we're telling everyone, I can share the funny stories and reactions that people have had so far. I had the following conversation with my sister:

Me: I have some big news.
Her: OK.
Me: Uhm, well, I'm pregnant!
Her: Huh. I figured it was either that, or you got a dog.
Me: (somewhat surprised by this reaction) Oh?
(Commotion in background)
Her: Wait... Oh, Boyfriend is asking whether it's a corgi or a pug.

She has since ramped her enthusiasm considerably. :) My parents had figured it out due to my griping about being exhausted and having weird cramps (which have subsided). My Dad remarked, "Great, now I can buy those neat puppets I see in gift shops!" [ profile] yebisu9's parents were very happy and commented that they recently been thinking about grandkids, but didn't want to pressure us. One of my uncles offered the following advice: "Make sure that kid eats a lot of dirt and stuff so it's not allergic to anything!" (This is par for the course with him, and I appreciate that, since he's not been feeling well lately, and it was great to hear his old self in his voice.)

Until we find out the sex, we're calling the baby "Little Squeak" because this is what my grandmother apparently called my father before he was born. I also call it "the small person" in an effort to remind myself there is actually someone in there, and not just an abstract concept that will make me big, exhausted, happy, and moody.

In any case, I understand that not everyone wants to hear the details all the time, so when I write about this in the future, I will place it behind a cut. (Or, if people prefer, I can set up a filter.) This is still somewhat in the unreal stage of "yeah, right, that will never happen!". At the 12-week ultrasound, Little Squeak was bouncing around, waving its little arms and legs like it was at a dance party, but I can't feel it do this, and would not have known unless I had the ultrasound machine on at that moment. The next day, I went and looked at maternity clothes and all I could think of "no way will I look like that!" I'm not sure when it will hit me, but I'm hoping that by writing about it, it will become more real. :)

May 2016

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