The Liebster Award: Part II: The Sequel

 

Looks like Easter came early. It turns out I’m nominated again for the Liebster Award, twice! At this point, I now have three of these awards. Thank you Silver Screen Serenade way back in February and The Cinematic Frontier for the nominations! Time for round two!

Here are the rules:

  • The bloggers who have been nominated must link back to the person who nominated them.
  • Nominees must answer the eleven questions given to them by the person who nominated them.
  • Those nominated must choose eleven of their favorite bloggers who have less than 200 followers to answer their own set of questions (sidenote: I’m going off of how many followers WordPress tells me you have, though I’m not sure how accurate this is).
  • When you are nominated, you cannot nominate the person who nominated you.

The first part’s done. Now, since I’ve been nominated by two separate people, I’ll answer in the order of who nominated me. Time for the questions.

From Silver Screen Serenade:

1. Favorite vacation spot? Eastern Ohio, right around the West Virginia and Pennsylvania border. Really cool hills (and scary narrow roads to boot) and most of my family is from that area.

2. Favorite color? I’m into an electric blue, like my Nintendo DS that I still have (first model version). Nowadays, I’m leaning toward a mixture of black with lime green accents.

3. Favorite dessert? Cheesecake. I ask for one every birthday (and everyone else in my family). Triple chocolate.

4. Black-and-white movie? Toss-up between Eraserhead and The Elephant Man.

5. Favorite superhero? I’m not as big of a superhero kind of guy like most people. However, I’d go with the Hulk from The Avengers movie.

6. Favorite TV show? Just one? Twin Peaks.

7. Favorite book? 2001: A Space Odyssey. Go figure, right?

8. Favorite Beatles song? “Revolution 9″. I even have a Pandora station based on it. Ironically, it has more Pink Floyd than Beatles songs.

9. Favorite dog breed? Huskies.

10. Favorite beverage? Ginger ale. Can’t go wrong with that.

11. Favorite nerdy franchise? My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I’m not a die-hard fan but I enjoy the subtle references they include in the show ranging from Gone With the Wind to The Big Lebowski. I’ve talked about how one two-part episode eerily syncs with “The Wall” (it’s really worth a watch, regardless if you like the show or not) and how I met the season four co-director.

Now, from The Cinematic Frontier:

1. What is your favorite new release of 2014 so far? The LEGO Movie.It’s the only new release I’ve seen this year.

2. Do you prefer 3D or 2D? 2D. I can handle 3D just fine but wearing a second pair of glasses on top of my regular ones as well as knowing the colors are duller isn’t an ideal viewing experience. Now, for films like Avatar and Gravity, I’ll see them in 3D because it is done well.

3. What is your favorite film from the year you were born? Groundhog Day.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars? I’m going with Star Trek because I don’t have to ask myself which version I’m watching.

5. Which Comic-Con have you most recently attended (or, if you’ve never been to one, which one do you plan or wish to attend)? I’ve never been, but I would love to go to Comic-Con at least once in my life. If I’m ambitious enough, I might cosplay though I’m not sure what character.

6. Blu-ray or streaming? Since I personally don’t own a Blu-ray player or have a subscription service, I can’t really say. If I’m online, I’ll find full movies on YouTube, like Persona but you have to dig deep in order to find them sometimes.

7. Name your favorite ’80s song in a film. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from The Breakfast Club.

8. What is your favorite film based on a book? 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, there are differences between the book and the film but I still enjoy it.

9. What is your favorite (or least favorite) Nicholas Cage haircut? My favorite is Sailor from Wild at Heart. I haven’t seen that many Nicholas Cage movies so my options are limited.

10. Which film recently made you reflect on it long after the credits were over? Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. I was uncomfortable with how the events played out. I appreciated how much was done with such a low budget but it was still unnerving.

11. Who is your favorite composer? Michael Giacchino. I was introduced to his work from The Incredibles but I never really paid attention until I started watching LOST.

When I was first nominated, I included a list of people (click here to see if you’re on it). If you have not claimed your award then, please do so and answer those questions. If you happen to have been nominated again, answer both sets of questions.

I nominate:

1. Hard Ticket to Home Video

2. Nicholas Conley’s Writings, Readings, and Coffee Addictions

3. jjames reviews

4. Pensive Aspie

5. Jono’s Mind Palace

6. Forgotten Films

7. seventhvoice

8. Lonesome Dreamer

9. LA is Over

10. Keeping It Reel

11. Head in a Vice

Here are your eleven questions:

1. Should older movies be converted for 3D, like The Wizard of Oz?

2. What is your least favorite Disney movie (animated or live-action)?

3. How often should movies be rereleased for home media?

4. What movie would you recommend for a date?

5. What television series would you like to see rebooted?

6. Who is your favorite Sherlock Holmes?

7. What is your answer to life, the universe, and everything?

8. Do androids dream of electric sheep?

9. If you had the choice, would you live forever?

10. Where do you see movie theaters going in the next twenty years?

11. What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Now you know (and knowing is half the battle). Thanks again!

The Show Must Go On

Last night my acting class performed two one-act plays for the school, Sorry, Wrong Number (as Duffy) and Check, Please (as Brandon). In my opinion, it went very well and I enjoyed the experience.

The last time I acted for the stage was back in sixth grade as Jesus for the traditional Last Supper play. I didn’t know my lines and had the script on the table with me the whole time. The only highlight was eating the food afterwards, unleavened bread and grape juice. My picture even got in two local newspapers.

Flash forward nearly a decade later. Everyone had to audition for both plays. I went in with my audition sheet and asked for the role of Brandon. Merely a day later, the results were posted and I was very excited that I got what I wanted. My classmates agreed that I could perform the role really well when the night came. I practiced alone by walking around our screening room with this music playing.

Then, last night. After nearly a month of rehearsal, I knew my lines for the most part. I was prepared to improvise if necessary. I had my props all set and I’m waiting backstage. All of my peers are backstage as people start to fill the house.

The volume began to increase backstage. I tried my best to shut out the sound by sitting in an alcove, blankly staring at some wood panels. I reach in my pocket and take out two empty spools, given to me by a good friend of mine who is on the spectrum. I start rotating them in my left hand, trying to clear my mind. Nobody really noticed. It wasn’t long before the show began to start and things started to quiet down. I still played with them, stashing them back into my pocket when my cue came.

After the play, I mingled with the crowd. I saw some faculty members and received positive feedback from them. I never got praise for my role in the sixth grade, but then again I didn’t do a good job. Here, it was genuine and I knew it. I got handshakes and pats on the back; this was good.

I went home, wet from what happened to Brandon in Check, Please, relieved that it was over, and proud because of what I did. I had fun and feel more confident in my skills. True, I can always improve but that’s all part of acting.

The Puzzle Piece

 

Growing up involved in one part or another with the autism community, I am all too familiar with the puzzle piece motif. My views have shifted about what it means to me since that post. This is one of many debates within the community that has various stances.

The general meaning is that those who are on the spectrum are a jigsaw puzzle, an enigma, that has some missing pieces. Those pieces need to be found and put together so that they can be “whole”.

While I know that there are parts of my brain that are not wired quite right, that doesn’t mean that I have gaping holes in my skull. I’m biologically whole, last time I checked. So why should I be a puzzle?

One of my first assignments in my Editing class was to make a PowerPoint movie about yourself. I used the puzzle piece motif, without the usual color scheme, and likened my life to assembling a puzzle without the final image. I start with the border and then move on to different sections. Not once did I state “autism” or “Asperger’s”. Those terms, from what I can recall, did not appear in my peers’ minds but the concept was well understood.

Every day, I interact with people, mostly neurotypical, to the best of my ability and at times I am not provided with all the pieces. For me, I can use the analogy for everyone I meet. I don’t state this in face-to-face group discussion as that would be inappropriate.

Recently, I have started work on my senior project which will focus on how I view the world as someone on the spectrum. I’m excited about this project and feel like this can be a strong piece; it’s a matter of reflection and figuring out why I do what I do and then putting it into words. I’m debating whether or not to use the puzzle piece and the associated color scheme as a style choice; I doubt I will.

I do have an autism tie with the puzzle pattern and color scheme pictured above. I wore it recently to my school’s year-end art exhibition a week or so ago (which had more sensory overload than usual but that’s another story) instead of my usual black or maroon tie. For those who did look at my tie, they said “Nice tie” and I returned the complement. Nobody, as far as I know, knew what the imagery meant. I wasn’t upset about it but I would have liked it to spark some conversation. I figured that people had other things on their mind and let it go.

I’m not offended if the piece has the above color scheme; it’s the periwinkle blue that triggers me. I haven’t gone into meltdown mode or anything like that since that post but at the same time I haven’t had a chance to work on this. I know I will need to in the future and still be able to function. I also know that I will not support that organization in the future because of their stance.

The puzzle piece, while recognizable as a symbol for autism, has a different meaning depending on who you ask. For me, I don’t mind if people use it but the color scheme can change everything. Just keep this in mind whenever you talk to people, regardless if they are on the spectrum or not.

Movie Review: Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Just think, in only five more years LA will transform into something neot-ech. After all, we’re supposed to have hoverboards next year according to Back to the Future Part II; but I digress.

A burnt-out detective takes on an assignment that involves retiring replicants after they illegally return to Earth.

First impressions of a film are irreversible. This can be difficult when more than one version of the film exists, like Donnie Darko or THX 1138. I was told a year or so ago that the only version of this film I should see is The Final Cut. That vanished from my memory when I found a copy of Blade Runner at my library during my sophomore winter break. When the conversation came up months later, I wondered if I saw the right one. Sure enough, I did. To this date, this is the only version I’ve seen even though I own a first-run Director’s Cut on DVD and a domestic/international print (the box is in terrible condition) on VHS.

The environment is very immersive to the point where I felt cold and wet from all of the rain shown. The low-key lighting complements the derelict sets. There is nothing clean about any part of the set; everything looks and feels used.

Before I even saw the film, I had heard several pieces on Pandora. I had grown accustomed to rhythm and flow but was surprised to hear them severely truncated in the film during my initial viewing. I have the soundtrack in my car whenever there’s a rainy day (fitting, indeed).

I have heard some people comment, primarily negatively, on the slow pacing. I don’t have a problem with it. For me, I use 2001: A Space Odyssey as a benchmark for runtime. I should be able to grasp broad concepts in the time allotted while still leave information I can analyze upon repeated viewings. With films like this and 2001, the pace is appropriate. If it were any faster, subtext would be missing as well as some key points.

I would like to focus on the questions used with the Voight-Kampff machine that determines whether or not a subject is a replicant. On the surface, they seem like they have obvious answers. Other times, there may be a specific answer that could only be given as a programmed response. When watching the first Deckard/Rachel interrogation with the Voight-Kampff, Rachel responded rather quickly. The response time provided means that she can either be a human who had access to the question key beforehand or a replicant programmed with the information from the key.

Assuming the second half is true, I feel like a replicant (at least the concept) at times. I may look human and provide some kind of response but it doesn’t always feel real. It takes a lot of mental effort to function a certain way and pass as “normal”. Even Rachel asks Deckard if he even took the test, only to be given no response. It seems only fair if the test is adminstered to those who will proctor it later on.

Originally, I had planned to review every single print available and list the differences. I changed my mind, mostly because it’s been done (complete list here). Also, the 1001 list doesn’t specify which print should be viewed. Consider this my sole review for the film.

Not everyone will like this film, I get that. There are enough thrills and content to satisfy anyone looking for a serious film. If you haven’t seen this yet, I strongly recommend watching The Final Cut before anything else.

8/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

IMDB Top 250

AFI Top 100 (2007): #97

400 Nominations for AFI Top 100 for both years

Beyond Aware

Today is considered World Autism Awareness Day as part of Autism Awareness Month. What exactly does “awareness” mean to me? It is a sense of knowing and understanding that requires honest dialogue and listening from those on and off the spectrum.

Every single moment of my life is related to autism. I had always known my younger brother was on the severe end (back when resources were scarce) but I didn’t know about myself until towards the end of middle school. Around that time, two separate articles were published about my brother and with it was the fact that I was on the spectrum; I suppose this makes it public knowledge but my friends glanced over it/never read that part. I pushed that aspect aside until that day last year when that one organization published that piece (I refuse to mention them by name).

Since then, I continue to explore my identity through writing and video as well as discussing this with some of my peers. It has not been easy but if it was, I wouldn’t learn. Recently, I got a paper back that discussed who I was and got a perfect score on it. I was excited, considering all of us in the class had to revise a few times. Depending on how things go, I might publish this or send it to “This I Believe”, the end goal of the assignment.

As a whole, where is this sense of autism awareness in 2014? Well, the 1 in 66 statistic was released last week, but that includes the new changes to the autism diagnostic system in the DSM-V. Is it a matter of autism occuring more frequently or a matter of precautionary labeling? Neither I nor anyone knows for sure. From theories of the causes (notably the vaccine argument) to the idea that this is part of evolution (hmm), it’s a minefield.

The characterization of what autism is in popular media is still a work in progress. It has been many years since Rain Man (not accurate in some aspects) but what do we have? Sheldon Cooper, Abid Nadir, Sherlock Holmes, and Max Burkholder. The first two are speculated, the third one has a fleeting reference to Asperger’s, and the last one is confirmed in-story. Are these positive/accurate portrayals? Not all of the time. But what about shows for the kids? The only one I am aware of is Carl from the Arthur episode “When Carl Met George” and since then that character has never been seen since. Anything else is passed off as a secondary plot device. As someone who plans to be in the film/television business, I hope to help create and provide postive examples.

Then there’s today’s specific event, Light it Up Blue. NO. It does not promote awareness about autism but rather awareness for a certain organization. Does changing the lights of a city to blue (specifically the organization’s shade of blue) establish solidarity or encourage honest discussion that should happen every day, not just April 2 of every year? Not for me.

Today, the only blue I have on me is on my jeans and that’s out of practicality, not for symbolism. I do not have a shirt that says anything about it, only because of the names on the shirt. The lights will stay the same in my house.

If you do know somone on the spectrum, listen to what they have to say. Don’t assume anything. Have patience and allow yourself to be open to any discussion. If you feel like making a donation, please do some research on the organizations before you make the payment. Nothing’s worse than money wasted for the wrong reasons.

Listen.