Saturday, April 12, 2014

On the issue of Fake Geek Girls, The Big Bang Theory, Legolas and the new Star Trek movies

I know I'm late to the party, but some thoughts about this came to my mind just now.

I do believe Fake Geek Girls exist. But: it's not just girls.
Girls are just more obvious, they get more attention. I'm not 100% sure why that is. I think it has to do with gender stereotypes. If a guy says he thinks a woman is sexy, it's like stating that it's going to be a warm sunny day. Everyone can see that, it's not worth mentioning, though nobody minds of you do. But women are supposed not to like sex, so they're not supposed to think of men as sexy, so if they do - they're fan girls. I think this is one aspect, but there's probably more aspects (like men often being able to hide their cluelessness better).

Anyway, so back to Fake Geeks. Yes, I think they exist.
Maybe it's since The Big Bang Theory has become such a big mainstream hit series. Maybe some mainstream celebrity mentioned that they're a "nerd" or "geek" or something. Suddenly being a geek is trendy. Look at all those fake big black glasses.

Take Star Trek for example. Fake geeks would say something like "I'm such a Trekkie, I saw both movies several times." The new movies are Star Trek for non-fans. They took the universe and made it into shiny, sexy action movies. Complete with "inside jokes" to make the fans happy. Looks good, enjoyable for everyone. Now everyone thinks Spock is sexy (not just Jadzia). But they left out some of the things that made Star Trek special - the philosophy, the ethics and morals. Aspects non-fans didn't know existed.

Fake Geeks are annoying.
I know I shouldn't say this. We should be happy that our fandom gets more attention, everyone should be welcome, etc. We should be happy that thanks to Sheldon Cooper more people know what the Doppler effect is. But it's annoying anyway.
I remember when the Lord of the Rings movies were made. You know, the ones by Peter Jackson. I love them, of course. I loved Lord of the Rings way before that. I was a big fan of woodelves and Rangers. My first Pen&Paper roleplaying character was a hunter because it was the closest to a Ranger I could get. My niece - born before the first PJ movie came out - is called Arwen. I knew the Bakshi movie and one of the only two poems I can remember by heart is the Ring poem. Hardly anybody knew what I was talking about - and then suddenly everyone did. Suddenly everyone loved woodelves and Rangers because Legolas was so sexy and Aragorn so cool. It was weird. And it was a little annoying.
It's happened to me again after that. It probably happened to X-Men fans, Sherlock fans, Dr. Who fans and others, too. I loved My Little Pony when I was a kid, but I still don't quite get the fad about them now. It's happening with Big Bang Theory. It will happen again in the future.

So what should we do?
We practice our patience. We're happy about the new fans it will bring to the fandom, the ones that will stick around and be an enrichment to the subculture. And we wait until the others leave again, run to the new fad that's coming up - and we hope they'll do it soon.
And, of course, we'll take all the merchandise we can get... Read more on this article...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Heimat

I think I'm getting old.

Lately I've been feeling very... I don't know how to put it..."heimatverbunden" - very attached to my native home.
Maybe it's because I'm getting older. Maybe it's because I'm visiting my parents more often. Maybe there's some other reason.

I grew up in the south-western part of Germany. I call it "The Shire of Germany" because it reminds me a lot of the Shire in Middle-Earth, home of the Hobbits. It's a very rural area, there are no big cities and no big industries. But it's so beautiful! There's a big river (the Rhine), there's valleys and hills and mountains covered with old, dark forest (the Black Forest). There is a lot of agriculture, viniculture, forestry and actually in the past there's even been the cultivation of pipe-weed (tobacco). The rest of the world generally doesn't care about this place, except for tourists maybe (plus there's a town with an old renowned university). The weather is rather warm, and the food - influenced by French, Austrian and Swiss cuisine and benefiting from the warm, nearly Mediterranean climate - is the best in all Germany.
It has been part of the area the Celts originated, later home to the Alemanni tribes but the Romans greatly influenced this area, too (e.g. with their love of hot springs and wine).
Every time I'm on my way home I look out of the train window and admire the landscape, the rolling hills and the mountains looming behind them.

Or well, maybe with the mountains and the university it's a little more like Rivendell...?


Anyway. I find I'm getting more interested in the traditional dishes (though I can't cook), fairytales, history and landscapes of the area. I enjoy the farmer's market and walks in nature. I take more pictures of things I wouldn't even have looked at when I was younger.


The place where I live now is nice, too. The flat is nice (although too hot in summer), there's bus stops just across the street, a big store a few minutes walk away and a mini town ceter a few more minutes walk away. Plus there's a small river with footpaths, trees, garden plots and playgrounds; the perfect place for a walk or Nordic Walking. It's my place, I can decorate how I want and I can clean up when I want. I can do what I want when I want to. I have all of my things there.
But I don't feel like I feel when I'm at my parents - I just feel happier there. I just can't seem to recreate this feeling of home and Gemütlichkeit at my place. Maybe it's because when I'm at my parents, I'm always there on holidays (or when I'm ill). Maybe it's because I get good food there. Maybe because I have company there; I never seem to be able to make friends, so when I'm at my parents' I have more company, more social life (outside work) and communication than normal. I often site in front of the TV in the evening with my parents and watch documentaries or concert DVDs. My parents often go for walks somewhere if time and weather permit, and when I'm there I go with them.
I often think how I could recreate that feeling at my place, but I don't really know how. Maybe it's not possible.

Normally it shouldn't be a problem, but it worries me for two reasons.
First of all, I had planned to live and work abroad, in UK or Ireland, sometime. But now I don't even feel like moving out of state. This, of course, limits possible places to work.
Then I sometimes feel like I'm too dependent on my parents. When I need something bigger my parents often buy it and bring it (I don't have a car), when I need help changing the light bulbs (I'm rather small) or with some other work around the home, with water-taps, etc, my dad does that when they visit me. I feel like at my age I should not depend on them this much. Of course I try to help them where I can. But what would I do without them, when they can't help anymore? I also often worry about them. When they drive home from visiting me, they have to call when they're home. I really don't have anyone else, so I'm afraid of losing them, I dread life without them.

The Shire - Tolkien Gateway
Alemanni - Wikipedia

Upper Rhine Valley - Wikipedia

To end this post on a more positive note, here are some pretty pictures of my home:


Read more on this article...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

new situation at work

I haven't been feeling happy at work lately.

As you kow, I've only started at this job in September and everything looked alright at first. But in December I felt a little dejected. The work itself is still fun, I like writing specifications and doing mock-ups. But I felt like busywork, not really useful. Plus I felt really disconnected, our team sits scattered over three rooms and doesn't feel like a team at all, the people in my rooms usually don't go to the cafeteria for lunch and the others usually forget to ask me. I don't know, it just didn't feel right.

Now since I felt like writing specifications wouldn't really fill all of my time and since I'm really interested in it, I wanted to see if I could do more work concerning usability and user experience. I think it's really closely related to the work I'm doing anyway and the open position isn't filled yet. A co-worker is doing some work, but I know she's really busy with a lot of things. I just wasn't sure how to start... I didn't know who to tell about the idea and how and what to say and whether it was a good idea at all.

There's a lot of reorganisation going on and some time ago we were told that another departement would be joint with our team. We were also told that there wouldn't be much change for us, team e-commerce experts, but mainly for the others.
Now today we got a mind map from our boss and tomorrow there's a meeting concerning our reorganisation. Much to my surprise, I am transfered to another team, team "requirements management" - as the only one from our current team. ... I really didn't expect that at all.
First of all that will make it more difficult to do more usability-related work because that job will remain withing the other team. Secondly after just a few months in the company I'll have completely different team mates. Since I've not been feeling very connected with my current team mates, I'm thinking that this isn't necessarily - but it's not easy either. I hardly know these people, I've maybe seen them once for a few minutes (and they all know each other). And thirdly I'll have a new boss; well, my current boss will stay as my boss, but I'll have a team leader. I have heard rumours that he's not a very boss, though nothing precise, I am a little worried.
I feel insecure, I feel a little free falling, like there's no one/nothing to hold on to.

Since it quite suddenly got urgent I had a talk with my current boss about my idea of doing more usability-related work. It didn't go very well. I think... I'm not really sure. He disagreed with my worries of not having enough work to fill the day (apparently there's a long list of projects that all need a concept - but in my experience most projects from these long lists will never get done). He didn't want me to change into another position, said they needed me to write these specifications (I didn't mean to imply that I wanted another job). He did however say that he thinks it's a good thing that I give my ideas and my input and that I can work on usabilty stuff for maybe two days a week if I need to clear my head from writing specifications all the time (though it sounded a lot more like "two days" was just something he said at that moment and not actually an approval of spending exactly that time on it).
Unfortunately my boss is a very vague person, he doesn't give you precise input, he never tells me what to do. So now in a way I have an OK, but no starting point, nothing definite.

So tomorrow we'll have the meeting to talk about the changes, together with all the people from the two-became-one departement. I'm really a bit worried, and I don't know what to expect. I just had to get all these things off my chest, that's the reason for this hurried blog post. I hope I can sleep tonight. Read more on this article...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

short anime review - yokai special: Nurarihyon no Mago, Uchouten Kazoku, Mononoke, Tokyo Ravens

I've already written about Natsume's book of Friends, one of my favourite anime and manga and- much earlier on - Tactics. But like shinigami, yōkai are a common theme and setting for anime. Of course! The possibilities are endless. But there are a few yōkai you'll probably meet in nearly every series: kappa, tanuki or tengu for example.
I liked Kamisama Hajimemashita quite a lot, so I think it'll get its own blogpost. But here are short reviews of some other animes with a yōkai theme.

Nurarihyon no Mago
Rikuo is supposed to inherit the position of Supreme Commancer of Demons - but unfortunately he only sometimes turns into a demon at night and otherwise is a normal human school boy. He wants to live a normal mortal life with his friends, but he begins to realize that he has a duty towards his yōkai family and demon comrades.
Nurarihyon no Mago is in a way typical shōnen - it's about being weak and becoming stronger to protect others, the usual stuff - but without panty shots and boob socks and with suprisingly few fights. There are a few, but they always seem to be cut off early. However, long fights in each episode are boring anyway and there is a huge brawl at the end of the season. I really liked the wide range of different yōka, big and small, ugly and beautiful (some of them would even count as bishōnen). It reminds me a little of Gokusen, with the main character always torn between those two worlds, trying to hide their family background.

I've only seen the first season and the OVAs so far, but I'll definitely watch the second season, too.


Uchouten Kazoku
This one is a bit strange and even after having watched the whole season (in Fall 2013), I'm not quite sure what to think about it.
In Kyoto not only humans live, but also tanuki and tengu. Yasaburou is a tanuki who lives with his brothers and his mother at a temple. His father had been eaten in an annual tanuki hot pot a few years ago by a human secret society called the "Friday Fellows". His older brother Yaichirou wants to follow in their father's footsteps and become head of the tanuki society. The plot follows the dangers this brings to the family and the uncovering of their father's last hours.
Uchouten Kazoku is really creative, refreshing. I especially liked the flying tea room. But one character, Benten, really got on my nerves - she's an arrogant, selfish woman, but everyone still likes her - even though she (knowingly) ate their father! I mean: WTF?! But hey, she's good-looking, so murder is OK...


Mononoke
If Uchouten Kazoku is a little strange, Mononoke is totally weird. I guess it's mainly the artistic style, which is vastly different from the usual anime style. It's very colourful, but not always beautiful, more like a paper collage, a freakier version of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine movie.
Kusuriuri is a wandering medicine seller and exorcist and the anime shows episodes of him fighting yōkai.I haven't watched that many episodes yet, so I can't say much more.
Besides its arty looks, it's creepy and often ugly and gross. But it's also fascinating.


Tokyo Ravens

Harutora is born into a lesser branch of a famous Onmyōji family, but he himself isn't very good at magic and divination and he doesn't care much. After a serious magical incident however, he decides to keep true to his promise to a childhood friend and moves to Tokyo to attend a magic school together with his friend Touji.

Tokyo Ravens will have 24 episodes (still ongoing at the moment) and so it can take it's time for plot and character development, which I really appreciate.Touji was my favourite from the beginning, so I was quite happy when more of his past and the secret of his character was revealed.
Most episodes are entertaining on their own, a good mixture between action and comedy, but there's also hints at a greater plot overall. The only thing that annoys me is the cliché tsundere Loli girl.
The style incorporates a mixture of drawn and computer-generated images. It would have been really cool to have the yōkai computer-animated to give them an otherworldly feel, but unfortunately sometimes also other things a CG, so I think they've wasted a bit of a chance here.
Read more on this article...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain

I feel so tired. Both physically and mentally.

Alright, I've been off work for more than a week because I caught a cold. So it's not too surprising to feel exhausted. But I've been sleeping a lot and did nothing much, but I still feel tired.
And while it's especially bad at the moment, it's been like this for a long time. I've felt like I lack energy for many years now, sometimes more, sometimes less. Some time ago I had myself thoroughly checked through, cardiogram, allergies, and everything. Back then they found that my lung only has about two thirds the usual capacity. But the doctor said as long as I didn't feel a sudden drop it most probably is natural/congenital. I usually don't notice it in everyday life, except in yoga classes during deep-breathing exercises.
I take meds for Hypothyroidism, my iron and vitamin levels should be ok, too. I'm thinking of countermeasures to my slight dust mite allergy next.

Sometimes I really feel desperate. At times I decided that this is just how I am and I should accept it. But life makes it difficult. I get nothing done. Even when I try to take little steps at a time... it doesn't work. I'm procrastinating, yes, but my low energy level play into this, too. During the week, now that I have to commute so much, I don't get anything done. Especially things that take more time or concentration - no chance. And then on the weekends I plan to do at least a little bit more, but I also sleep a lot. On Saturdays I do the shopping and after heaving all the thing to the top floor, I'm exhausted for the rest of the day. On Sundays I do some cleaning up, but just the bare minimum, not as much as I actually need to do. So my flat is a mess right now and it's annoying me and so many things need to be done, but I just can't bring myself to do them.

I also spend a lot of time on the weekend, surfing the internet, watching shows, reading books. In a way I feel guilty about it (when so much housework is left undone), but I also feel like I need it. during the week there is also hardly time for anything but work and commute, just checking the new mails and new messages on Twitter and Pinterest. I don't dare to start reading a good book or watch an hour long episode of something, because I'm afraid it will cost me too much sleep. I'm more of a night owl and getting to bed in time is difficult enough.

But I like to read or watch anime or Asian drama series or something like that. It's fun, it makes me happy. It takes me away from this world. Yes, I like escaping reality.
I'm tired of this world. There doesn't seem to be much good left. The world is going down the drain. All efforts to stop climate change is jeopardized. The U.S. is doing whatever they find in their best interest, no matter whether others suffer or rights are disregarded and they will answer to no court - it's like a new global dictatorship. There is no gender equality and sometimes I think most people don't want it. I feel like it actually got worse after the 80s and 90s. Same goes for homosexuals and everyone else who isn't acting like they are expected to. And I feel helpless about all that. Sometimes I feel like I should do something, get involved; but then I think of how I can't even manage tidy up my home.
Then there's me and my family. I'm working in a field where I never wanted to end up. I earn good money (though I'm not rich), but it's not where I want to work for the rest of my life. I don't like the company I'm working at the moment. Yes, I just changed jobs, and the work is alright and the co-workers are alright, but the company itself is... not likable. I don't like the conditions of work, it's all so old-fashioned. Considering the lack of energy, I'm afraid I have to give up on ever re-doing my Master of Science degree. I tried to change fields of work last time and it didn't work. My older brother still didn't finish studying and he's thinking about giving up and working as a guitar teacher. He's already rather old to start a professional life, but we always hoped that as engineers are really wanted, it would work out anyway. I'm afraid work as a music teacher (untrained) is very unstable and won't make a lot of money. My parents are still living beyond their means, even though my father is now retired and they have less money. My mum isn't completely healthy and suffers from having to work even part-time. I feel like I have to go on and earn well, so I can support them. I can't become a Hikikomori, even if I feel like it. I'm afraid of what would happen if I couldn't go on working like this. For example if my depression came back full force...

I'm really afraid of already being in another phase of depression. I've been clinically depressed before and took meds and because of it, I couldn't finish my Master of Science degree. I can't afford not to function at the moment. So I just have to go on somehow. Even though I really don't feel like going back to work tomorrow, I'll just set the alarm to 6 AM, get up and get through the day somehow.
I'm not suicidal. I couldn't do this to my parents. And there's good music yet to come and so many books left to read and the next Hobbit movies...
Read more on this article...

Monday, November 18, 2013

k-dramam review: Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Number of episodes: 20
Genre: historical, novel adaption
Actors:  Park Min-Young, Park Yoo-Chun, Yoo Ah-In, Song Joong-Ki

I might have found it: the third one in my "Top 3 k-dramas" (together with Faith and City Hunter). And for a change, Lee Min Ho doesn't appear in it. It does share the female lead with City Hunter, though, so it kinda all stays in the family.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal (SKKS) combines the "poor girl attends a school for rich people" and "girl has to disguise as a guy" plots and sets it in historical Korea.

Kim Yun-Hee lives with her single mother and her ill brother. To pay off the family debt she secretly works as a script, disguised as a man. When she was about to be sent off as a concubine she takes the risk of sitting through the entrance exam to a civil servant university in place of someone else. However, she's discovered by Lee Seon-Joon and impressed by her talent - and unaware of her being a woman - he makes her sit through the exam to enter herself. This way she ends up in the Sungkyunkwan university, using the name of her brother. Even though she knows of the possibly deadly consequences of being exposed, it's a way for her to keep doing what she loves, to escape being a concubine and to help her family with the allowance and free medicine she gets as a student.

Lee Seon-Joon is a strong believer in rules and dislikes favouritism. Political intrigues are strong in Sungkyunkwan and through her connection with Lee Seon-Joon, son of the Prime Minister, Kim Yun-Hee is a target for others right from the start. She ends up sharing a room with him and Moon Jae-Si, son of the Minister of Justice and belonging to the opposing political group. Moon Jae-Si has a reputation to be delinquent, he stays out gambling and drinking and gets into fights - everyone expects the two of them to start a fight any minute. But no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition the balancing influence Kim Yoon-Sik (the name Kim Yun-Hee takes on as a man), herself without any political affiliation, has on the two of them. Soon the three roomates together with Moon Jae-Sis best childhood friend Ku Yong-Ha become known as "The Jalgeum Quartet" - it's like a historical boygroup, there's one for each taste: the joker, the bad guy, the stoic and the cutie.
The Fab Four

One day Kim Yun-Hee is dared by Ku Yong-Ha (who suspects her being a woman from the start) to take a bath and is seen by Moon Jae-Si - but he keeps this a secret. Maybe because he has his own secret to keep? Lee Seon-Joon finds himself confused by the attraction he feels towards his supposedly male roomate. And then there's the people around them who dislike seeing a cross-political group developing. So their friendship has to go through quite some trials.


I really like the university atmosphere set in a historical context, I like the friendship developing between the students. I also like how Kim Yun-Hee is portrayed as absolutely equal in terms of intelligence and intellectual talent and even - with much dedication and effort - able to compete in more physical subjects like archery and hockey. Actually the other women aren't to be ignored either: Kim's mum chose her love over her family, ending up a single mother, Ha Hyo-Eu probably being a typical woman of her times but rather strong-willed and infamous Gisaeng (a kind of Korean geisha) Cho-Su, who... well, I don't want to spoil too much.
Plus it's simply hilarious at times.
One thing I don't like is how they portray homosexuality. I guess it's partly owned to this being a historical drama, but still it would have been a nice change if one of them would actually have been gay. And of course you rather not think of how Kim Yun-Hee's able to hide her gender and issues of hygiene, monthly periods, etc...
Please don't let them notice, please don't let them notice...

The absolute highlight of this series are Moon Jae-Sin and Ku Yong-Ha- they're like the one true pairing of bromance. Ku Yong-Ha is this mischievous rascal, rich boy, fashionista, someone you'd suspect of being the gay character (personally I suspect he's bi) if he wouldn't be such a womanizer; complete with his own collection of the historical equivalent of porn mags. He has this amazing empathy and always seems to know exactly what's going on.
Moon Jae-Sin, delinquent, bad-ass fighter, read all the books in the library and completely awkward with women (he always gets a hiccup around them). Ku Yong-Ha knows Moon Jae-Sin so well and, with that smirk of his, plays tricks on him. They're so great together, the perfect team! They're outshining everything else in this series so much that some people on the internet demand them having their own TV series.
BFF


Moon Jae-Sin's my favourite of them anyway. I first was a bit put back by that attempt of a beard, but he's actually kinda cute (maybe I'm just a sucker for long hair, or it's the lips or the puppy dog eyes or the sweaty, shaggy, bloody - but I'm digressing). And even though he was shocked at finding out about his roomate being a woman, he instantly protects her, taking on a big-brother-like role. They get along so well together and then he remembers she's a girl and starts having hiccups and being awkward - so adorable!
(Side-note: These kind of guys really exist. They look frightening and tough at first, in their rocker outfit, but actually they're absolute sweethearts.)
But well, we all know of k-drama second leads, how they fall in love with the girl and she ends up with the other guy and they watch from the back, wishing well (still breaking my heart every time)... For once I'd prefer him not falling in love with her because I like their friendship too much. Besides the official couple is too cute not to like.

I'm not quite sure about the ending. It's good overall, but there's a bit... I can't really put my finger down on it. Maybe it's because I'm not sure I understand what happened (esp. concerning the future they showed).

Sungkyunkwan Scandal on AsianWiki
review on KDrama Fighting (This review has some background in the historical events - it's also generally good blog.)


PS, fun fact and spoiler: Kim Yun-Hees way to confess was pretty similar to how I confessed to my first boyfriend. Read more on this article...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Your usual K-drama set-up...

A is a very poor girl. For some reason she becomes indebted to one or more rich guys. Maybe she broke something expensive at one of her many part-time jobs or had to go disguised as a guy and was found out. Guy B is rich, good-looking and incredibly nice and honorable. His best friend C is richer, more good-looking and an asshole. He also has a bitchy mother and a bitchy fiancée he doesn't love.
Guy B falls in love with girl A. But for some inexplicable reason A falls in love with C. Drama ensues. C's fiancée bullies A. C's mother forbids their love. A is depressed and drinks, gets a piggy-back ride home from nice guy B. C is depressed and drives around in his very expensive car and then takes a pensive shower. Read more on this article...