I remember in sixth grade I sat next to this not particularly nice girl in my computer class. She rarely spoke a word to me, but this story centers around a day that she did.
We had a substitute teacher that day, and he was one of those “cool” substitute teachers. You remember cool substitute teachers, right? I know you do. They were the ones who were like, “yeah, there’s an assignment here for you guys but feel free to work in groups and do whatever. As long as you’re done by the end.” These subs had their own little prepared stand-up set that you KNOW they practiced on classes before yours. And it worked every time.
So as I was saying, we had a cool sub that day, and this guy was one of the jokey types. A subset (no pun intended. really. that’s barely a pun) of the jokey cool sub is the one that’s not afraid to push the envelope with language/dirty jokes in the classroom because he/she “knows what REALLY goes on with you kids and I’ll be gone tomorrow anyway.” Not necessarily anything outrageous but JUST enough to make everybody look around at each other with facial expressions that basically say, “WHOA this cowboy doesn’t play by the rules!” Facial expression voices sound a lot like movie trailer voices, by the way, if that wasn’t clear.
I don’t remember how he even segued into this at all. It’s hard to imagine a scenario that makes sense, but just trust me that it wasn’t entirely out of nowhere. Basically he found a way to work the word “ho” into our sixth grade computer class, and everybody had a field day. Everyone except for me, because I had no idea what ho meant.
I turned to not-particularly-nice-girl next to me (I didn’t have any friends that sat anywhere near me in that class - she was my only resource) because she was laughing and thus demonstrated some level of understanding here, and asked her what ho meant. She rolled her eyes and scoffed before impatiently replying, “it’s a prostitute.”
This might have been helpful if I had known what a prostitute was. I asked for one word, and she explained it with an even longer word I didn’t know. To me, I might as well have asked what the word “foxy” meant only for her to reply in an irritated voice, “pulchritudinous.”
At that point I was too embarrassed about being so out of the loop to ask any further questions. I don’t even recall when I ACTUALLY learned what a prostitute really was. You’d think that would be more memorable, but no. “Learning about a fancy synonym for ho” just felt like too long of a title.
Most people arrive at college and decide it’s time to reinvent themselves for some reason or another. They want to start fresh and leave behind the person they were in high school. This is the chance to be cooler or crazier or whatever-you-want-er than you ever were.
My personal going-away-to-college reinvention entirely consisted of:
a) cutting my hair to shoulder-length
b) wearing my glasses instead of contacts a little more often (and always on Thursdays. Don’t ask me why; I don’t have an answer that makes sense.)
c) deciding I wanted to be somebody that “wore vests.”
That’s literally it.
By December my hair was long again, I wore my contacts most of the time unless I got lazy or got a request, and I gave up on vests. None of these things have changed ever since.
However, nearly a year out of college I can see that I definitely DID change, just not in the ways I expected and not overnight. Kind of like, oh, every other time in my life.
Needless to say, “reinventing myself” was overrated, but maybe that’s because I didn’t really go for it like a lot of other people did. Call me crazy, but I was pretty okay with myself, and life took care of the other significant lasting changes without my help.
But who knows, maybe five years from now I’ll give vests another shot.
For some reason the school system (I don’t actually have proof of this, it may have just been my school alone pretending like this was normal) thinks it’s a great idea to teach children about tar pits at a very young age.
Now, if tar pits, or “asphalt lakes” if you want to be pretentious, were some kind of big, messy pit of fun that man/animals enjoyed recreationally, coming and going as they pleased wayyy back in the day, then telling kids about it might make sense. Instead tar pits manage to get away with being one of the only horrible death traps I can think of that have colorful picture books written about them intended for young impressionable minds. Minds like I once had, except I only had one. One impressionable mind.
When I was five, I vaguely remember my kindergarten class taking a big field trip to the La Brea tar pits. “Vaguely” because that young mind of mine I was just referring to generally did a pretty good job of blocking out most of it. Unfortunately, a few things stuck with me (turns out tar pits are very, very sticky to both the body AND memory.)
This field trip was intended to give us an up close and personal look at what we’d been discussing in class. I also might have been alone in this, but upon hearing about how many things died in tar pits, I automatically assumed it was all too awful and upsetting and concluded tar pits probably weren’t real. According to five year old Lia, tar pits were just another Brothers Grimm story, except for some reason the teachers weren’t making up happier sounding endings that didn’t involve gruesome punishments and or murder. In these stories it didn’t matter if they were good guys or bad guys. Once caught in the tar pit, the saber-tooth tiger/wooly mammoth/early man/confused and disappointed plant that “never should have wound up here!”/giant wolf always ended up dying a slow gooey death.
Faced with the “real live tar pits” complete with their replicas of distressed-looking ancient animals stuck out in the middle of the inky black pool, I was forced to accept these stories as fact. I will never forget wandering around the museum of tar pit related horrors and coming across an image of a baby woolly mammoth stranded in a tar pit. He was struggling to escape death, his trunk outstretched toward his helpless mom while she could only watch. I saw myself in that baby wooly mammoth (we had our small-ness and scared-ness in common) and it really got to me. Those children’s book illustrators were truly talented at giving these wooly mammoths the saddest eyes imaginable. I hope those guys are proud of themselves.
I’m pretty certain this is where my fears about dying started. For a long time I struggled with the terror of falling into a tar pit and slowly sinking to my death while my family couldn’t help me. I had recurring nightmares about this exact scenario, about how awful it would be to slowly suffocate in the black tar and wait for my life to end. Plus I hate getting dirty in general, so you can imagine how upsetting that would be as a full-on cause of death. I didn’t understand how tar pits aren’t just sitting around in the middle of your commute, waiting for people to fall in.
Eventually I discovered that tar pits are a little harder to get to than that. These days there are only a handful of them worldwide. Modern tar pits tend to be pretty clearly labeled with signs and museums, and only hang out in exotic places like Venezuela, Trinidad, and California. They also refuse to take most calls on account of being “real busy.”
Yes, I’ve been able to achieve a healthier attitude about tar pits, but I don’t think the whole learning-about-it-when-we-were-five thing was entirely necessary. Can’t the tar pit talk wait a few years? It’s not like, I dunno, something like puberty where you HAVE to learn because it’s kind of a time sensitive thing and you need plenty of warning for what’s ahead. Unless I’m horribly mistaken, tar pits are not “a part of life” unless you work at one. I could even understand if it was going to be the first wave of something we’d cover repeatedly so that it was really engrained, like U.S. history or the importance of eating a good breakfast before standardized state testing. Instead, the tar pits are introduced in kindergarten and then they never come up again. You have to go to college if you want to keep talking about tar pits. Same goes for learning about Pompeii at a young age. That’s pretty dark stuff too, we never go over it again after second or third grade, and I had a whole slew of issues about volcanos as a result, but that’s another story.
Now that I have friends that live in La Brea, I literally have to park right next to the tar pits in order to visit. I wish I could tell my past self that tar pits aren’t so bad. I mean, I park by them all the time and obviously I have not fallen in.
I have this weird relationship with Special K Red Berries Cereal. It’s the one that has the strawberries in it. I first tried it in college when I stayed at a friend’s place and was offered some. On that morning, something about the crunchy flakes with dried strawberries and milk was mind blowingly delicious to me. I can’t really explain it. My mouth was hit by Taste Bud Cupid’s sneaky little arrow and I decided I loved Special K, the one that has strawberries in it, more than any other cereal.
The first thing I did was buy a box of this munchable morning magic. I actually woke up excited to be reunited with the flavor of Special K Red Berries. Then I took my first bite of what you could call our edible second date.
It was not at all the incredible elixir of life that I remembered. It was generally okay, especially for a healthy cereal, not bad at all really, but nowhere near “my god what is this delicious witchcraft?!” status. In fact a lot of the strawberries had an off-putting consistency and texture once they made it to my mouth. Given that the strawberries are preserved by what can only be an unnatural process, I don’t know why this was surprising, but I was disappointed nonetheless.
Now, a typical person would have given up on Special K Red Berries right then. What I did was continue to eat it every morning until the whole box was gone. Here is why:
That first experience was SO grand that I thought if I kept at it, I could get it back. Sounds crazy, and it is, but it actually worked. Sort of.
After about halfway-through-the-box’s worth of consistently mediocre Special K experiences, inexplicable magic struck again. The cereal tasted absolutely fantastic, just as I remembered, and suddenly all the bowls of disappointment I’d gone through seemed completely worth it. I had achieved breakfast bliss once again, and it was here to stay. Really, after all that, how else could this go?
The next morning revealed exactly how else it could go. I was back to disappointment town, and it was just as disappointed to see me. How could it have been so good yesterday, and not today? I still don’t know the answer to this question, but I’ve been asking it for years because I never gave up on Special K Red Berries thanks to the lame lame lame lame AMAZING lame lame lame AMAZING AGAIN cycle that just won’t end.
This cycle doesn’t stop at Special K Red Berries, either. It turns out I’m kind of consistent with this behavior. You can see it in the way I STILL watch SNL, putting up with laughter-less episode after laughter-less episode just because “Lazy Sunday” happened out of nowhere that one time. Eventually I’ll start to lose faith, finally prepared to throw in the loyalty towel, and then something like this will happen and my resolve is reborn for the next several years.
I keep seeing Pirates of the Caribbean movies even though I always leave filled with regret. All in the name of “MAN was Curse of the Black Pearl excellent!”
I don’t exactly thrive socially at parties/gatherings at bars. I am generally a shy person and also tend to be the only sober one around (which I don’t have a problem with but it seems to make other people self conscious) and yet I keep going to them. Why? Occasionally I will have a good experience. Like one time I actually met somebody and that was real cool. That instance scored a lot of points for parties in my book, but that kind of thing doesn’t happen often and it hasn’t since. Still, I go, because MAYBE…
The same problem is at play in my tendency to believe in certain guys way, way longer than I should just because they were exciting at one time and do things that still seem promising now and then. I hold out for the occasional redeeming gesture that makes all their frustrating ones seem worth it. I’m talking about those nice little moments that hint at what I BELIEVE is a well of significant-other-awesomeness lurking down there just waiting to be revived/unearthed via some good ol’ TLC on my part. The reality is that 9 times out of 8, I am either completely wrong and there is nothing more to be enjoyed, OR I am semi-right and there IS some kind of ‘mature feelings reservoir’ if you will, but for reasons out of my control I am not allowed near it past a certain point, nor will I ever be, so it might as well not exist at all.
In all these situations, the entire time no one was fooling me but myself.
I’ve been 21 for over a year now (which… yes, makes me older than 21) and have never actually tried slot machines. It’s probably for good reason because based on all the things I’ve been saying here, I’m exactly the kind of person from which casinos are looking to take great amounts of money. Kind of in the same way I’ve already given away great amounts of my time and attention to things that weren’t really worth it.
This is probably obvious to lots of people out there, but I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with this. I know because I see it in others around me all the time. It’s you guys I’m talking to now. My peers who can’t give up on things. I think I’m starting to get it now. In order for something, anything, to actually be considered “good” it should be that way the majority of the time. No amount of occasional AMAZING should be able to make up for otherwise pretty consistent blah. At this moment in time I can’t think of very many exceptions to this idea, except maybe the consumption of antioxidants. Even if they don’t taste amazing every time, good things are still happening there.
I’m not sure if Special K Red Berries or Saturday Night Live episodes or wobbly romantic interests have antioxidants (Special K might, actually) but unless they do, I’m going to start redirecting my energy toward other things that really are “good” for me.
And if something magical happens on SNL I can always find it on Hulu.
I don’t want to get too in depth because I didn’t do that when these thoughts occurred to me in the first place. I’m not trying to start a huge debate, or say that these are reasons to dislike the movie. I know that plenty of people were upset about how The Hobbit turned out, but for whatever movie-magic reason, I enjoyed it. I had fun. I really did. These things just happened to cross my mind while I was watching and I wanna share, because I haven’t heard anyone else say this yet. Expect this to be pretty stream of consciousness. It’ll be just like you were there.
1) Once again I’m attracted to the guy in the group with the bow and arrow. Is this a weird coincidence or is that just a rule in Middle Earth? The group huddles up and says, “Alright guys, who among us is nice to look at but also is not the leader? Him? Okay, HE gets the bow and arrow. Next order of business: beards.”
2) There’s definitely a theme song every time people start jogging, and I’m sure that’s on purpose. It makes for very important-feeling jogging. If I had this sort of thing happen every time I jogged, I might actually do it more often.
3) Yes it’s unrealistic that everyone survived everything in this movie, but are we really going to argue about what’s realistic in Middle Earth and what isn’t? It’s just kind of refreshing to let everyone live and not have to kill someone off to legitimize the adventure and the danger. It’s almost predictable to kill someone off these days. Which is why in the beginning, as soon as there was any mention of ponies I thought “Oh no, what’s going to happen to those ponies?” and it turns out “nothing really.”
And I was glad.
4) Hey that’s BRET! Nice to see you again! With more lines!
5) Is… is Gandalf drunk?
6) Why did the hawks drop them off a million miles away from their destination? “I see you’ve got two more movies to fill, so we’ll leave you here.”
7) Was it Peter Jackson that was sitting around with the character design artists and said “okay, I like how this orc king looks, but can we add just like a weird tumory thing from his neck? Make it hang a little lower. Yes, just like that. Perfect.” I’d like to know.
8) That pale orc lost his arm, and the finest orc medicine money can buy decided, “Let’s stab this metal claw that doesn’t actually function like a hand in any way through his arm stump at an odd angle and just let it heal that way. Good as new.”
9) Am I accidentally watching the extended version right now?
10) I can’t believe they just made us watch Sebastian the hedgehog die a painful looking death!
11) Oh okay good he’s alive.
12) HOW unhelpful was Radagast the brown? He was supposed to lead the orcs away with his superior rabbits, which he did for five minutes before looping back around to lead them right back to Bilbo and the dwarves. Good job.
13) Here’s a big one about bad guys and good guys. In general, the good guys (especially the leads) are characters capable of multiple emotions and personality traits (maybe not the dwarves so much this time around, but they have their moments), and they go around leading busy, emotionally relatable lives. Meanwhile the bad guys spend all day every day pursuing evil while being as ugly as they possibly can, and that’s it. That is all they do. Every time we peek in on the bad guys to catch up with what they’ve been doing, we pretty much just get a reminder that they are reliably grotesque looking, evil and haven’t changed. Whatever terrifying plan/face they have is literally all they’ve got going on at any given time. Even if we were to surprise them unexpectedly, they would be doing exactly the same thing as when we left them last time. This is assuming they can actually talk at all (I’m saying they might be grunting or communicating via chilling screams instead. There are lots of options when it comes to unpleasant sounds.)
Also you never see bad guys eat, do you? While our good guys have to stop to eat, rest, maintain relationships, talk about their homes and families, tell some jokes now and then, or even wait out bad weather, bad guys do none of these things. In fact they thrive in bad weather. Same goes for disgusting conditions. The grosser and uglier the environment they’re working in, the better. If there’s torrential rain that’s driven the good guys indoors, you can rely on the bad guys to be out there soaking in the mud like it ain’t no thang because in Middle Earth, bad weather/disgusting conditions are IDEAL for advancing an evil agenda.
Then look at the differences in towns. When we get sweeping aerial shots of say, rivendell or the dwarf city, we get a large sense of the culture of that place. Men, Women, children, elderly citizens, homes, routines. When we do the same for the orc city, we see 5 million slight variations of the same orc. There are no baby or children orcs, or even distinguishable male or female orcs. Just orcs. It’s no wonder bad guys never seem to have any friends or any kind of positive feeling for any of their peers: they are all the same and have nothing new to talk about with each other. When you’re evil in Middle Earth, you don’t need an after-work life. Just you, your disgusting face, and whatever mean thing your even uglier (and probably taller) leader is bent on doing. That is the life of a bad guy in Middle Earth.
I have to wonder, if the bad guys DO get everything they want, in other words successfully slaughter all that is good and obtain all the power they can possibly dream of, what’s next? Stand around and follow a hierarchy of evil and tell each other what to do? Maybe, but for what? They don’t DO anything, remember? They don’t have friends or hobbies. They can’t even use that ultimate evil power to tell someone to bring them a sandwich because they don’t eat or have any real needs or dreams for that matter. They’re just left with their sole goals and purposes in life already completed and there is nothing else.
Maybe this is why it’s pretty much impossible for evil to actually win in Middle Earth. The good guys inherently have more motivation to win the fight to hold onto their nice lifestyles than the bad guys whose lives will essentially be over and pointless if they win. Or maybe they’ll finally have time to get around to picking up tennis, who knows.
14) I think Gandalf is still drunk.
Like I said earlier, these things I thought of aren’t supposed to be reasons to hate on The Hobbit. You don’t have to delve very far at all into the internet to find some if that’s what you want. Even with all of this stuff going on, I managed to like it anyway, which means SOMETHING had to be going right, right?
Granted I didn’t see it in 3D. I heard that was pretty upsetting to the eyeballs, but I think that version may have actually been called The Stoppit.
- Boy: Did it hurt
- Girl: (sigh) did what hurt
- Boy: Breaking through the earth's crust ascending from hell
Lately I’ve been noticing that my much younger self misunderstood a lot of things.
This time, it’s the Elvis song Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me.
I was obsessed with this song when I was little. I would listen to it over and over again, probably to the annoyance of everyone, but I loved it. It wasn’t even anything about Elvis, really. Not that I DISlike Elvis, he’s alright, but I’m just not a huge fan or anything. Neutral.
Except there was nothing neutral about Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me, and I haven’t thought much about it in awhile. Then I heard it in Hallmark today and it all came flooding back.
“I…I’ve got to go,” I mumbled to the startled cashier as I stumbled out of Hallmark in a cold sweat.
Way back then, I didn’t understand that ‘baby’ is a romantic term of endearment. So when Elvis says, “Santa, bring my baby back” he means some special lady in his life that has gone, and not his misplaced infant child like my silly kid brain thought. I remember being really moved by the idea that a song had been written about a dad that just wanted to be reunited with his daughter (I don’t think he even ever made the gender clear, I just decided it must be a girl) for Christmas. What a touching thing to sing about.
The fact that it was an upbeat, dance-y song with occasional vaguely romantic lyrics didn’t do anything to clue me in that my interpretation might be off. I don’t know when I finally realized (or someone sat me down and talked some sense into me) but I’m pretty sure it’s how I learned about people calling each other ‘baby’.
It also might be why I refuse to call anyone baby. It’s just a little bit weird.
Unless you sound like Elvis. Then it’s allowed.