Stories on the edge of familiarity
The Art of Goofing Off: Episode 2

The Art of Goofing Off: Episode 2

Has it really been a month already? Oh, February. So short.

This episode talks about movies (well, movie), TV shows, video games, books, and art – in that order, too. Feel free to skip to the section(s) most conducive to your goofing off needs. :)

Stories on the Big Screen (Movies)

Ever After

Ok, I didn’t discover this one this month, but I did watch it. Ever After is the story of Cinderella, but historical fiction instead of a fairy tale. And it’s hilarious. I think of it like Princess Bride: great one-liners, a fun story following in the steps of fairy tales, and characters that you want to come back to again and again. But, instead of fantastical creatures and over-the-top weirdness (in a good way- I love The Princess Bride :) ), you get a story firmly entrenched in a specific era and specific country (France sometime between 1508 and 1512). It feels solidly realistic and plausible and, at the same time, magical for it.

Also, Angelica Houston plays the wicked stepmother, Drew Barrymore plays Danielle (aka Cinderella), and Leonardo Da Vinci is an actual character in the show. Not to mention the king and queen’s bickering.

It’s a clever movie that I watch almost every time I’m sick. I didn’t get why except that it was a Thing and one must not interfere with Things until I watched it one time when I was well and noticed how much I was laughing. When I’m sick, not so much laughing happens because sickness is happening, but it’s clear this movie never fails to make me feel better, no matter the state of my health.

Stories on the Silver Screen (TV Shows)

The Guild

Another rewatch, and a wonderful, refreshing one. The Guild was originally an internet show, which is why the longest season is only 90 minutes in total. The whole thing is done, with a proper ending and everything, and it wraps things up in a way that makes me happy sigh every time.

The story follows Codex (aka Cyd), a neurotic woman whose life revolves around The Game, an MMO game obviously based off of World of Warcraft, and the members of her guild as they start to interact with each other irl. Starting with Zaboo, who shows up randomly at Codex’s apartment in the first episode, convinced that the two of them have a romantic relationship. Codex isn’t sure how he decided that or how to get him out of her house. Wouldn’t life be better if they only interacted with each other through The Game? Maybe. Maybe not.

I love this show because literally every character in it is so weird but the point of the show isn’t to fix them. The point is that we’re all weird. We all can recognize bits of ourselves in the characters, often exaggerated to humorous effect, and it somehow helps us feel more… normal. Like, no matter what our personal failings are, we can still have what makes life brighter.

 

The Mindy Project

I watch this show because it’s funny (which is good because it’s a comedy and those are supposed to be funny), but its way of being funny in a “breath of fresh air” sort of way. If I could explain it any other way, I would.

I started watching it sometime last year, but the new season finally came to Netflix, so I’ve been watching it an episode at a time. And… I don’t know. I do a lot of intense thinking and I like a lot of cerebral things, so it’s nice to have something I can always count on to be light, unselfconscious, and optimistic as well as well-written and full of great characters. It’s the TV equivalent of splashing cold water on your face when you’ve been feeling grimy. At the end of every episode, I feel like humming.

And we all know feeling like humming = feeling happy. :)

Interactive Stories (Video Games)

LIMBO

…also known as “how many ways can Thea die in one puzzle? Oh. All of them.”

The game is simple, understated, and the solutions to the the puzzles are always so elegant. The only problem is that they also often appear impossible at first, second, third, and sometimes fourth glance, but you’re not actually mad at the game because no matter how many times that spider KEEPS IMPALING YOU THROUGH THE STOMACH and you HAVE TO START THAT ALL OVER AGAIN WHY IS THIS MY LIFE the solutions and physics are so beautifully done that you can only be mad at yourself for not figuring it out sooner.

Seriously, if you love great physics in video games, this is the one to play. If you love puzzle games where the puzzles are actually difficult, this is the one for you.

If you ragequit easily, this is not the game for you. This is really not the game for you. Over the course of the whole thing, I drowned more times than I can count, fell to my death, was electrocuted, impaled, shot by poison darts, crushed, and sawn into pieces – all of it beautifully animated in black and white.

The only thing I didn’t like about LIMBO was the ending. It felt anticlimactic.

But the puzzles are fantastic. So that’s what matters?

Just get ready to die. A lot.

 

Life is Strange

If you follow the link to this game, you’ll be asked for your birthday because Life is Strange is rated M.

And yes, children, that M is given for good reason (if you’re not under eighteen, ignore this line).

That said, the whole premise of the game is that Max, the character you play, develops the ability to go back in time and change her decisions. And then you get to see what the consequences of those decisions are as you keep making more decisions, really hoping you’re not messing absolutely everything up as you do.

If you like story-driven games with a whole cast of characters you come to care about and with gorgeous soundtracks, this is the game for you.

All the characters come across as very realistic and I’m not kidding about how you come to care about them. The trailer, which you can watch if you follow the link, will tell you about the story, so I’m not going to. What I’m going to tell you is that the central time-travelling mechanic meshes perfectly with Max’s character and her photography, and that you will get emotional as you change the lives of the people around you. At first, Max plays around with her power for silly reasons but, as the game goes on and the consequences of her actions become more clear, it becomes about trying to do the right thing when the right thing is never clear in the moment.

And let me be clear: some of the decisions you face in this game are so, so emotionally difficult to make. If I could give you one tip, it’s to look through everything in people’s rooms when you first enter them. Anyone who has played this game knows exactly which conversation I’m sidestepping around. What you know about the other characters matters.

Some people didn’t like the ending. I thought it was perfect. The creators stuck to their theme all the way through from beginning to end and made a story worth playing, no matter the outcome.

Written Stories (Books)

The Raven Boys

Ley lines, a sleeping Welsh king, psychics, a magic forest in Virginia. I didn’t know that any of these were involved in the book before I started reading because I didn’t read the back. Why didn’t I read the back? Because the last book I read by Maggie Stiefvater was The Scorpio Races (read about it in episode one) and it was fantastic. And so is this one. Trust me, it’s a good one. Also, it has confirmed my theory on how to spot a Maggie Stiefvater book:

You know Maggie wrote it when all the cars are lovingly described.

I’m not even kidding. If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll soon find out just how much she loves cars and driving, and it’s apparent in her books. I love it.

 

The Dream Thieves

Aka the second book of the Raven Cycle. If I’d read the third book by now, it would be on here, too (but not the fourth, because that doesn’t come out until April). In other words: read this series. Read it.

Oh, and Maggie’s car thing? Even more obvious in this book. xD

Visual Art (Self Explanatory)

Stephanie Law

All I know about her is her art. So here. Art:

The Beast by Stephanie Law

In Stillness by Stephanie Law

Glint by Stephanie Law

See?

Now go follow her on Twitter and watch for magic in your feed.

 

Wenqing Yan (aka yuumei)

Yuumei does the kind of digital art that makes you certain that she plucked her dreams out of her head and laid them on the page. It looks effortless, the way that the highest level of any art looks effortless. And so, so beautiful. Here are some of my favourite pieces she’s done:

Guilty by Wenquing Yan

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feel_and_conquer_by_yuumei-d9ngjsi

(Yes, all the paintings in that last image are her pieces.)

The best place to see her art is on her deviantART profile.

 

And that’s all from me! Go forth and enjoy. :D

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2 Responses to The Art of Goofing Off: Episode 2

  1. Lovely list! I especially loved seeing some of my own faves in there, like Maggie and Stephanie Law (I’ve been following Stephanie online practically since the Internet began).

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