So… you may have noticed a somewhat lacklustre attempt at blogging as of late. Sure, there have been posts, but I haven’t really been as engaged as I would like to be, as active as I would like to be, or as thoughtful as I would like to be. There are a few reasons for this and I thought, well hey, why not make an updates blog post about them because whilst some of them are a little on the sad side, they’ll be glossed over quickly for the bigger and better – some recommendations of cool stuff I’ve been enjoying.
I casually mentioned in a throwaway comment that we recently experienced a death in the family. Towards the end of last month we lost my wonderful, loving nanna, and it’s been rough on the family as we try to work out how life looks without her and, especially, how it’s going to be with my granddad from now on. That is a whole other personal side of things that I won’t get into on here but let us just say that, sometimes, death can be revealing and sometimes what it reveals isn’t so shiny or nice. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss. Especially when it comes to your family. Your family is your family so the minute that you see that they are just as vulnerable and flawed as anyone else is certainly a moment of realisation.
The job hunt 2k16 still continues, to not much avail. I’m trying to stay positive and it’s very much an up and down process day-to-day, as I get really excited about a particular opportunity, obsess over my application, submit it anxiously, then get summarily rejected, making it feel like all those little dreams I had have been crushed. It’s an ongoing process but, hopefully, it will get better, I just have to be persistent.
Now we’re going to move onto the more positive part of this updates post… my lack of consistent blogging is mostly down to me watching videos instead of doing any reading or writing myself.
So I blame Netflix… specifically Archer.
For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s a cartoon (an adult cartoon, heed that warning!) about a suave-but-absolute-arsehole-of-a-man named Archer (the name’s Archer, Sterling Archer), who works for a spy organisation called ISIS (it proved to be an unfortunate acronym, yes), the head of which is his mother. The cast of characters is fantastic (Woodhouse is hilarious, Cheryl’s a fave, and who can forget Pam?) and the show really has a way of making everything so exciting and funny, from the mundane situations of HR wanting all staff to complete peer reviews to the absolutely ridiculous and farcical time (/whole season) in which the gang became a drug cartel. It happens to the best of us.
I haven’t done a good job of summing up the plot but the truth is, it really is a show that you just need to watch a couple of episodes and see if you get it or not. I can see that its sense of humour probably isn’t for everyone and, to be honest, I was mildly surprised that I ended up loving it, but I fell for it, hook line and sinker, after the pilot episode.
Moving onto my second Netflix recommendation that I’m sure needs no explanation: Firefly. Oh Firefly. Loved by geeks everywhere, this geek included, top of so many lists of ‘TV shows that were cancelled too soon’. I was reminded of the genuine joy that is Firefly when I tuned into Nerd HQ this weekend and saw Nathan Fillion auctioning off his shit. No, really, that’s pretty much how he describes it – he auctions off merch and fan stuff he’s amassed (probably cleaning out his closet in the process) for charity and it’s kind of great. But, back to the point, Nathan Fillion reminded me of how charming Captain Malcolm Reynolds is so obviously I had to revisit Firefly.
For those unaware, Firefly is a Space Western, created by Joss Whedon and starring the likes of Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, and Adam Baldwin. It’s set in a future where, after Earth burned up, humans moved to other planets and star systems, a sci-fi extension of the idea of a pioneer and frontier culture you see in westerns. The show is centred onboard a Firefly-class space ship called Serenity, crewed by a rag tag group of misfits who are living on the fringes of society and their star system. They make a living how they can – sometimes that’s salvage, sometimes it’s legitimate cargo runs, sometimes it’s straight up smuggling.
As with many of Whedon’s other outputs, what you get is an interesting premise that promises comedy, peril, drama, and genuine heart-warming moments as you see a group bond to become a sort of found family. The politics of the tyrannical Alliance vs. the little guys (though I’d hate to call Serenity’s crew that to their faces), the mix of Western and Asian culture as is seen through the use of Mandarian Chinese dialogue for swear words (a good way to keep the show’s rating down too!), the very distinct characterisation of each of the ship’s nine passengers, it’s all so clever. Plus it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Let’s move away from television and onto a little (or not so little) thing I mentioned above: Nerd HQ. For those unaware, Nerd HQ is an event that runs alongside San Diego Comic Con and, to be honest, I much prefer it. For me Comic Con always seems much too intense, it’s like information overload, a constant stream of updates and excitement and !!!, and I feel claustrophobic just looking at a photo of Hall H (like this one for example), let alone how I would feel if I actually ever got the chance to attend. Nerd HQ, by comparison, is much smaller, but nonetheless amazing, and if I were ever in the position to fly to San Diego for the sake of a weekend, I would so be there for Nerd HQ.
Run by Zachary Levi and the team at The Nerd Machine, it’s an alternative to Comic-Con, meant to connect fans and creators in a more low-key, intimate, and welcoming setting than that of a huge international convention centre. Of course those same creators are already in town for SDCC so of course they could swing by Nerd HQ. The reason I like Nerd HQ as a concept is that it seems a much more welcoming and approachable community, plus they live stream all their Q&A panels (they call them “conversations”, yet another move to be more inclusive) and upload them to YouTube quickly afterwards so you can re-watch that 2013 Tom Hiddleston one over and over to your heart’s content. I mean, what, I don’t do that…
The other great thing about Nerd HQ? Charity. Tickets for the panels or signings are sold for around $20 (a steal compared to the price of a con ticket), and throughout the day there are ways to donate money for Operation Smile, a charity which provides cleft lip and palate repair surgery to children all over the world. This year I saw plenty of people asking a question during a panel but then also adding ‘I bought some merchandise and I thought maybe I could get Zach to sign it and then you could auction it off later for charity?’. This is the kind of charity I like, it’s meaning that you get to enjoy the hell out yourself at this amazing Nerd HQ event but you also get to do a little something whilst you’re enjoying the hell out of yourself. Always a plus.
If you need any more convincing, Zachary Levi is endearing as hell and has a really great rapport with all of the people that come to Nerd HQ. Seriously, it’s uncanny how entertaining I found panels for shows that I don’t even watch, simply because it was so fun to have this back and forth conversation between him, the guests, and the nerds themselves that got to ask questions.
I gushed about Nerd HQ for maybe a bit too long there. Comic Con is also a nerd’s dream, obviously, and it’s the time of year to drop the latest film or TV show trailer. It’s no surprise to hear that I was extremely excited about three trailers in particular: Kong: Skull Island, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Sherlock. I’m still not sure whether Doctor Strange will be for me or not, but I’ll inevitably start to eagerly anticipate it once they start press for it. I’m so easily swayed by Marvel. Sorry/not sorry. There are just a lot of things coming up to be excited for. For example…
This weekend I’ll be visiting a friend who lives in Oxford and we’ll be doing all sorts of bookish and touristy things (including YALC on Friday which I’m ridiculously excited for) so I think a blog post on that when I come back is more than likely – stay tuned folks!
So, sure, I might not have been reading a great deal but I have been consuming stories, just via Archer, Firefly, and Nerd HQ. And they make for pretty compelling stories. I would recommend them. Anyone out there got any recommendations of stuff you’ve been enjoying, whether that’s books, music, film, tv, Internet stuff? Share them below!