Monthly Update: August 2015

It’s been a month since I started second shift. Things have definitely changed quite a bit, both at home and at work. But hey, my birthday is right around the corner, so there’s that.

At work, I’m currently training someone as my previous co-worker was transferred due to work ethic. Problem is, I’m one of the youngest people there, so I’m training someone who is several years older than me. Yes, it’s awkward but if it means that I have someone who can help me with my job, then so be it. I’ve had to do some overtime, but that’s expected.

Our let’s play channel is up and running. It’s going to be a challenge when college starts back up for my friends as we record on the weekends and, let’s face it, stuff piles up quickly when you’re at school. Click here for a sample episode, where you can hear my voice, see me play, and watch just one of the multiple title sequences I’ve made (more to come in future episodes). We have Half-Life, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and Boson X and have other titles for release, including Hatoful Boyfriend. It’s the start of what will become our own studio in roughly three years, so we need to get our name out there.

I’ve also been involved with a neurodiversity writer’s group. I’ve had one piece critiqued on self-care and I have another one due in a few days on friendship. It’s great to write for peers who come from similar backgrounds but what’s also great is that it’s done in a clear and regulated manner. We have a set of rules that we follow and from each session, so far, it’s been enjoyable. Besides, it helps me get back into writing for an audience.

Speaking of writing, I realized that one of my projects had to be expanded to a larger runtime. It’s more along the lines of expanding the story since it couldn’t be told within the time I originally planned. So, it’s up to me to flesh things out. I’ve also been toying with the idea of doing a podcast. Nothing set in stone yet, but it’d be more like an audio version of this blog in terms of how the reviews are structured. I’d like to get some good recording equipment (and upgrade my workstation) before I do anything.

The later nights have been nice. I get to come home and the TV is all mine. I’ve been going through my stack of videotapes that I’ve collected over the years. With my birthday coming up shortly, I’ll have some more to go through, namely the Criterion Blu-ray set of Stan Brakhage films. I know that’s going to be fun.

See you next month.

Monthly Update: July 2015

You’re looking at a hired man, which is very big for me. Granted, it’s not where I want to be but the money is good and I’ll take it. I’m working at a window manufacturing plant. After being internally transferred, I’m at a fill station. Basically, I fill the different spacers that are used to frame the windows with sieve. Lots of lifting and standing but whatever, it’s a job. I’ve been trained on first shift for the past month (wake up at 3:45 am). I officially start on second shift tomorrow.

Because of this, I’ve been extremely busy. It’s getting harder to watch films like I used to but I’m figuring out how to make them fit into my schedule. On top of that, I’ve been working with friends on getting our let’s play channel launched. Right now, only two episodes are up. They’re not the best but we’re working on polishing them in future recordings.

In terms of script progress, it’s been slow due to, again, work. It’s about trying to find time to sit down at the computer and crank out some kind of treatment. I’m moving towards shorts but the ideas come to me at the worst times. I suppose I can spend my time at work plotting but I need to be on my toes due to the details involved.

I should probably stop right now before my face hits the keyboard. I did review Inside Out, so there’s that. Can’t guarantee anything else.

Movie Review: Inside Out

There’s something about seeing emotions personified that helps remind you of what it’s like to relive those memories that you hold close. I guess it’s great for kids but looking at it as an adult provides a different perspective.

A child wrestles with her emotions after moving to San Francisco.

Since I first heard of the concept years ago, I put it in my mental calendar. I thought it would make for an interesting film. Back when I was an animation major, I had an assignment where I had to personify an emotion. When the first images of the emotions were released, I posted it to our animation group on Facebook because it was relevant. Seeing it now reminded me of it (I recall it was similar to Disgust, but more illness related).

When it came out to theaters, I wanted to see it with my autistic best friend. There was a bit of humor in it when coupled with the notion that all autistic people can’t express emotion and we were going to see a film that was about emotion. I tried my best to avoid reading spoilers but from my online friends (the majority of which are autistic), this came highly recommended. I went in with tissues in my pocket, hearing that it was going to be a tear-jerker. Sadly, no tears were shed on my end, something that really bugs me on a personal level because I wanted to feel the emotion at the point where everyone said it would be. I’m still a bitter about this but I won’t bore you with the details.

If it sounds like I’m going to repeat what you’ve heard or know about it, you’re right. After going for more than a year without a Pixar film, it was definitely worth the wait. The fact that we get two Pixar films this year (personally not sure about The Good Dinosaur as of this writing) really adds the icing on the cake. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the past three films of theirs as I was with, say, Ratatouille or Up. While it may be a return to classic Pixar, we are getting a third Cars, a fourth Toy Story, and a second Incredibles (the last is the only one of the three I’m looking forward to). With this and The Good Dinosaur, it’s a matter of savoring these original films before the sequels come in.

Judging by the crowd at the showing I attended, there weren’t many kids. I figured that would be the case as I was trying to figure out how this would be marketed for kids. One TV spot I’ve seen repeatedly introduced each emotion but ended the list by saying “And you know what sadness is.” What was meant by that line, I’m not sure. If I were a kid, I’d probably focus on the colorful emotions, possibly picking up on some of the humor. As I am, I was able to appreciate it on an immediate level. It also helped that I was dealing with some emotions prior to the screening and figured this would help me.

I’ve been a fan of Michael Giacchino’s work since I was introduced to him on LOST. This meant knowing that he has some heart-tugging pieces, like the death theme from LOST (most notably in the final episode) and the montage from Up. When it came time for the sad part, I recognized some of his traits and I was reminded of these scores. And yet, not a tear was shed. I figure that repeat listens will provide some closure as there won’t be any dialogue.

In the end, I wish I had felt all the feels, as today’s youth puts it. I do appreciate the fact that it’s OK to be sad, something that isn’t heard much. It’s actually comforting to see, especially in this new wave of kid’s media. That’s not to say that this was just a kid’s film, but rather that the message can be directed towards them. I’m definitely adding this to my collection, that much is certain.

P.S. I didn’t care much for the short. I expect it’ll be a nominee for Best Animated Short but I don’t expect it to win.


Coming this Month: June 2015

Honestly, I should stop promising reviews of things that won’t happen when I say they’ll happen. My life has just gotten very busy to review things, which pretty much derails what this blog has come to be known for.

Here’s the thing: I’m still job hunting. I’ve been at it for a month now and I finally got my first call back from a factory I applied to at the beginning of May. It came when I was out of town but it’s the beacon of hope in a fog of uncertainty. I’ve also been helping out with some friends in getting a let’s play series going as a player and editor, when I get the chance. Nothing has been uploaded as of yet but it should be sometime this month.

Because of this unemployment limbo that I’m currently stuck in, I’ve had some doubts about what I’ve been doing wrong with the applications and, to some extent, me. Using what has become a stereotype, all autistic people should be great at STEM jobs. I’m not a STEM guy and the jobs that are available are in STEM fields. I’m sure if I wanted to, I could apply myself to go through some courses but I know I won’t be as happy as I am with film. This internalized doubt, coupled with irritation, self-loathing, and other things, has led me to become a rather unhappy person. I’m working on changing that but it’s not easy.

In terms of projects (now that I have time to do so), I have two in the works. One is a full-length film that will take years to make (not like Boyhood but just in terms of getting resources together). Another came over the weekend while listening to Pink Floyd; something like Dog Star Man in terms of visuals and a Pink Floyd song but not actually using it. It’s complicated but it’s definitely on the experimental side. It’s all in the mental planning right now, along with some trips to Panera.

For the foreseeable future, this blog will have more editorials when the time comes than the film reviews that I failed to deliver in recent months. True, the original point of the blog was to make myself known and the reviews came secondary at first. I’ll pick it up in the fall once I learn what films will be screened at my now alma mater, depending on my work schedule.

Also, I’m on Instagram. It’s not much but you get to see what I’m watching.

The Problem with Inspiration

Inspiration can be a beautiful thing. It can lead to great ideas and grand works. However, there’s a downside to inspiration, especially with how it is used within the disabled community.

If you ever meet me in real life, there’s nothing particularly inspirational about me on the physical level. You wouldn’t suspect, if you haven’t read my blog or followed me on Twitter, that I might be passing for neurotypical in front of you for the sake of social niceties. If I do decide to disclose to you that I’m autistic, I’m prepared to hear that I’m an inspiration for, when you get down to it, simply existing. In that statement, I have been transformed to a person to an object that is to be looked upon with pity. Just, no.

There have been two news articles, one national and one local, that reflect that statement. Recently, there was a story that circulated about, for all intents and purposes for this post, a neurotypical who took someone who has Down syndrome to prom as part of a childhood promise. One of the problems with the article, aside from the fact that it cast the NT as someone who took it upon themselves to take a helpless disabled person to prom, was that the person with Down syndrome was never quoted. Common sense would say that it would be helpful for the article to interview all parties involved; not so in this case. Realistically, the article shouldn’t have been written because what the initial act was was called being human. I do not know the motivation behind the article, whether it be for fame or for tugging at your heart-strings, but it’s not news. I related a story of my prom experience where, if I had been more open about myself at that time, I’d bet there would be an article on it.

Locally, there was a disability expo that, for the record, I considered attending but did not. An article was printed the following day saying that a disabled horse was there that was said to inspire the people who attended, again, for the sake of existing. I brought this up on Twitter and mentioned that in one season four episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there was a disabled pony who had the aid of wheels. Said pony had lines and was a part of the episode. Not once was his disability mentioned.* It baffles me that fictional horses did a better job of inclusion than real horses, which led to an online discussion with fellow autistic fans and followers.

What the first article is is what is called “inspiration porn” (click here for a TED talk on the subject). It’s something that I come across more often than usual, mostly from hanging out with the disabled community. I don’t wake up in the morning and tell myself that I was born to be objectified or go out in public and wish to be so. I don’t wear my disability on my sleeve in public, save for with trusted company. With said company, I’m treated just like anyone else and it’s refreshing.

As part of what I’m doing as an autistic filmmaker (no longer a film major as I have graduated) and budding advocate, I participate in dialogues about not just what we as an autistic community want and need but also with tweeting about how we wish to be treated, heard, and represented. Last night, this was a discussion as me and several others discussed the recent story about the one guy who was videotaped helping a disabled person eat and the ethics of videotaping such things (consensus states that consent from the disabled person, whose name was never given, was probably not given). It’s a work in progress, but it’s becoming part of my life goal.

I don’t have a problem if you say that I have inspired you, provided that it’s in reference to my film or writing style. However, if you pull that word out and it’s about how I simply exist, I am going to ask that you might want to reconsider. I have an article with a local art magazine, thanks to a friend. If this particular issue comes up, I’ll do my best to set the story straight. If anything, I’d prefer “influence” over “inspiration”.** In my head, “inspiration” is for objects while “influence” stems from humans and ideas. Last time I checked, I’m not an object and do not want to be treated as such.

*While I cannot say that MLP:FiM is a perfect show when it comes to this, it has done better than some long-running kid shows where the disability is given the Very Special Episode treatment. This will be covered in a future post.

**Preferred terminology stems from college art classes, especially the film classes.