We here at The Addison Recorder read stuff. We also watch stuff. And play stuff, even. Sometimes, that stuff is interesting. Sometimes we just need to talk about whatever pop culture ephemera occupies our time. Which brings us to this column. Moonwalk on.
This isn’t a discovery from the last month, but rather one which I’ve grown to love. Twitter can be a mess – so many people tweeting so many things. That’s why “A bear” is so refreshing. Ostensibly a joke account, the handle follows the adventures of a bear in the woods. These can range from eating pumpkins to trying to talk to squirrels. Most tweets end with this blanket statement: “I am a bear.” At times humorous, the user – who goes by the name A_Single_Bear – verges on some unexpectedly profound musings about what it means to simply exist in this world. To wit:
Today seems like a good day to be a bear but will tomorrow be? If tomorrow is not a good bear-day, what should I do? I cannot not be a bear.
— A bear (@A_single_bear) October 22, 2014
Such musings pair excellently with the more abstract thoughts of a bear living his life in the forest:
I have been practicing my jumping. It is very difficult, but I feel like I am flying for such a wonderful yet brief moment. I am a bear.
— A bear (@A_single_bear) October 23, 2014
I could go on, but it’s probably better if you just go and follow A_Single_Bear on Twitter right now. Trust me, you won’t regret it. I am not a bear.
Last month I picked a role-playing game (RPG), and this month lays down a similar verse in a different key. The award-winning RPG Delta Green was released in the late ’90s, a mix of government paranoia, alien conspiracy, and existential horror. It became the one of the more formative fictional canons that inspired my writing and outlook on tabletop games.
This past August, Arc Dream Publishing released the beta-playtest version of the new and redesigned edition of Delta Green. It’s not in final form, but what I’ve read excites me. This game has always centered around the idea of “personal apocalypse” — even though your characters are ostensibly saving humanity, they do it at the cost of their own. The narrative has been updated to reflect today’s real-world horrors and paranoia, and the new edition has built mechanics that streamline combat, expand the effects of mental trauma, and focus on how a lifetime of making unfair decisions erodes a person’s humanity.
My month didn’t center around any one or two things this time: I spent most of October binge-watching Gilmore Girls and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix with my roommate. I listened to the new Horse Feathers album because I loved 2012’s Cynic’s New Year, and the new release doesn’t disappoint. I read the first half of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist and look forward to co-writing with Christina a future post about this wonderful collection of essays. I started Amy Pohler’s Yes Please on audiobook and trust me when I say that it is a JOY AND A TREASURE. I didn’t even mind getting stuck in Chicago’s weird Halloween hail storm for nearly two hours because I just wanted to keep hearing Amy say encouraging things.
In my most successful binge-watching ever, I viewed all 102 episodes of Hank (brother of John) Green and Bernie Su’s Emmy-winning web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and would argue that their contemporary version of Pride and Prejudice is one of the best adaptations of the new century thus far. Lizzie stays very faithful to the novel’s plot, while giving some characters hilarious spins and updating some elements in welcome ways. (I particularly liked how they removed all the marriage proposals and none of the awkwardness.) It keeps all of the themes of perceiving and judging others intact and reminds us how they remain true and worth learning. And it preserves Jane Austen’s part-sarcastic/ironic, part-heartwarming tone to a tee, effortlessly sliding between pitch-perfect humor and realistic drama that provoked real tears on several occasions from this writer. To round the excellence off, Ashley Clements (Lizzie) could potentially be an American treasure: a natural actress with a brilliant comic touch who never overplays a scene. Find her another great but even bigger role, Hollywood!
I have hated watching football this fall. Michigan collapsing has turned the sport to ashes for me. So I have been replacing it with soccer! Specifically, I spent an ungodly number of hours playing FIFA 13 on the Xbox this month. I am still learning a lot of the controls (lobbed through passes are amazing!), and the difficulty settings are still pretty forgiving. But it has still devoured my time. Guiding my newly beloved Chelsea through the ringer of the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League has been a delightful and surprising challenge. Soccer doesn’t allow me to eviscerate opponents like the NCAA franchise, which makes goals more thrilling and losses more frequent. There have been some blowouts for Chelsea, but a lot of close calls and even a disemboweling by Man City last week. (Editor’s Note: UP MAN CITY! – Travis) (Beat them back 4-2 today, so down Man City. – Bean) Playing the video game has boosted both my interest in and knowledge about the beautiful game. Which makes it a lifesaver this month.
Wow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has seriously stepped up its game this season. I enjoyed the show during its pilot season, but now it’s really hit its stride. This season is darker and grittier than the first season, and has had some fantastic twists and reveals since the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I have been impressed all along with how the MARVEL characters, both on the large and small screen, have had to deal with the consequences of the meta plot. I still think Iron Man 3 is one of the best examples of PTSD I have ever seen in media, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying hard to give it a run for its money. After the betrayals at the end of Season 1, the characters have been brought low. S.H.I.E.L.D. is shattered, and every member of the team has felt the consequences. The relationships between the characters are dynamic, evolving as the plot evolves, and (refreshingly) romance isn’t a central means of relationship change. Male and female characters are friends with rich and layered relationships in which romantic interest has never played a part!
On top of interesting relationships and characters showing growth, the show is also showing some serious spy v. spy antics, questionable moral decisions, and fun fight scenes (oh man, “Face My Enemy” was great). If you want a more detailed account, check out this article over on io9.com.
I’ve been binge watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, since I didn’t start watching the show until two-thirds of the way through the season. This is not a show anyone should be binge watching. Gaza, Prisons, and the Miss America Pageant are among the list of bummer topics featured on the show, and I’m pretty sure John Oliver says “depressing” at least three times every episode. But he presents these stories in each half hour episode with the perfect blend of earnest outrage and absurd humor that I keep coming back. I laugh to keep from crying.