The Monday Muse: Anticipation

(Feel free to sing the title, if you’d like.)

So, readers, it’s time for another day of musings. Apologies for being a bit late today, but the weather that has wreaked havoc over so much of the nation decided to take its toll upon the electricity today, so…there’s been a bit of a scramble. BUT I HAVE PREVAILED! (Was that maniacal laughter?)

Today I want to talk to you about one thing, and it’s in the title: anticipation. Specifically, I want to warn you about letting it get in the way of actual enjoyment.

As most of the world is well aware, the latest Avengers movie is out this Friday (here in the States, anyway). This is one of my most anticipated movies of the year (along with Star Wars and the Minions movie, because I’m actually a small child in a grown woman’s body), and I have whetted my appetite by being exceptionally picky about what I view vis a vis the ridiculous levels of advertisement available. It started so long ago…the careful doling out of images and information to get the nerds of the world salivating in delight. And we have.

Until the internet got its hands on the movie. And the nerds freaked the *beep* out! This movie is at once a sign that Marvel is done and that Joss Whedon is a hack who phoned it in (though knowing what I know about Mr. Whedon, that is just objectively IMPOSSIBLE and I will defend that man’s honor most vociferously). The final fight scenes are Michael Bay-esque (which…is bad, apparently, though my problem with Bay movies is *never* the action and always the fact that the action is ALL THERE IS), and Ultron is a series of “weird one-liners” without menace at all. Um, guys…you do realize that James Spader is kind of…weird, right? You were never going to get a hulking (pun intended) leviathan with a voice actor like that.

So basically…we’ve got a lot of angry nerds. And if you look at pretty much any movie of its kind (remember the rage when The Dark Knight Returns came out, and…oh…all of the Harry Potter films, the Hobbit films, and the list goes on), there is always an almost visceral backlash against them. And it’s not just movies, either. Remember the last Harry Potter book? You’d think that one epilogue had just destroyed seven books’ worth of satisfying payoffs, well-constructed plots and characters, and heartbreak (which is NOT BAD). Now…I will never forgive JK Rowling for killing Fred, but that’s mostly because his death was just there to shock us. And, from what I can tell, the disappointment is real for both Mockingjay and whatever the last book in the Divergent series is.

What do all of these things have in common? That’s right! ANTICIPATION. We build these things up in our heads to the point that they simply cannot live up to our hopes. It’s too much pressure for a movie or a book to live up to. Not that we shouldn’t expect a good product; some of the outrage is well-deserved (those Star Wars prequels were genuinely bad and, as much as I love Middle Earth, the Hobbit movies were done a disservice by the overuse of CGI), though the internet could certainly learn a lesson in constructive criticism and the mature expression of one’s bad opinion. But I thought the Harry Potter movies were fine as an adaptation of the novels, and I feel the same about Game of Thrones, with the additional positive feelings of knowing it’ll end eventually and I’ll get some payoff (PLEASE, GEORGE, I NEED ANOTHER BOOK!!!!!!). Also…Kit Harington. But I digress…

Anticipation is more than just looking forward to something. It is built upon expectations, and those expectations are invariably personal. Millions of people will see Avengers: Age of Ultron, and there is simply no way it will please everyone. It has a harder job than, say, Guardians of the Galaxy, which was so delightful in part because that delight was unexpected. People had no preconceptions, and no hype built up. A lot of people expected it to fail. Captain America: Winter Soldier benefited from being essentially a spy thriller with some metal accessories (this is not to downplay the movie as it is my favorite so far from the MCU and Cap is special to me), which allowed it to focus on a tight, character-driven story peppered with fantastic fight sequences and explosions. Age of Ultron benefits from neither of those things, so it absolutely cannot live up to everyone’s expectations. It is so highly anticipated that it is bound to, on some level, fail. Look at Rotten Tomatoes: Avengers is currently rated lower than Furious 7! How much of that is because American audiences haven’t gotten their hands on it yet is yet to be determined, of course.

And Marvel is also somewhat to blame. How can we possibly NOT anticipate something that’s been teased, trailered, hyped, and Hulkbustered for the last year? But keep in mind, people…we’re all anticipating Star Wars, too. And if you can’t bring your expectations to bear, and your anticipation spirals out of control…Han Solo will come home to a lynch mob of angry nerds.

So…that’s it for the musing today! Apologies for the late hour and if you’re in the states affected by this horrendous series of storms…please stay safe! Same for anyone dealing with the drought and fire out west! I don’t care what my governor says…CLIMATE CHANGE. There…I wrote it. What are you going to do about it, Mr. Scott?

See you Friday!

-C

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Silly Sunday: Captain Obvious, Meet Batman

Well readers, by now you’ve surely seen the picture of Jared Leto as our new Joker. If you haven’t (or need a refresher), here it is again…. Presenting: Hipster Joker.

joker

While the look delivers a solid dose of “dafuq am I looking at?”, it is, in the opinion of the Nerd Cactus, a little… too on the nose. Or shall we say, forehead?

Aside from being reminiscent of a Hot Topic advertisement the Joker now sports a few nifty tattoos that say obscure yet profound things like “damaged” and “hahaha”. Herein lies the trigger for our initial reaction – as posted on twitter.

Now, aside from all those “haha”s being the equivalent of wearing your own band’s t-shirt, the Joker’s new tats would have Captain Obvious shaking his head. And we aren’t the only ones to have voiced this opinion… as witnessed by countless reactions on Twitter and Facebook over the course of the last few days. Our favorite, of course, is the brilliant photoshoppery that appeared as if in answer to our query into whether Batman would indeed be sporting an “orphan” tattoo upon his forehead.

Enjoy.

batman

-A

PS. We know plenty of people out there dig the new look (respect) and we ourselves have high hopes that Leto will totally pull it off. The opinions expressed in this blog are purely for entertainment purposes. ❤

Shakespeare Saturday: A Little Scottish Play Humor!

Greetings and salutations, Nerd Cactus readers! It’s time for another edition of our Saturday celebration of all things Bard. Now, this week’s post comes from a fan! I KNOW! WE HAVE THOSE! This fan is also a friend, a fellow writer, and a Shakespeare fan. She sent this link over to me a couple of weeks ago in the hopes that I would share it with the world! (Or…the very small audience we reach.)

So…ladies and gents, I present to you: Macbeth and Macduff Get Into an Argument Over Semantics! 

The original is found here, so click on this and go give this blogger a view!

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/macbeth-and-macduff-get-into-an-argument-over-semantics

MACBETH AND MACDUFF GET INTO AN ARGUMENT OVER SEMANTICS.

BY

– – – –

[Originally published April 9, 2010.]

– – –

(Macbeth and Macduff are fencing in front of a castle.)

MACBETH: Macduff! Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests. I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born.

MACDUFF: Despair thy charm! Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped.

(They stop sword fighting.)

MACBETH: Pardon?

MACDUFF: I was extracted surgically, in an operation.

MACBETH: Okay, but thou wast still born, right?

MACDUFF: No. Untimely ripped.

MACBETH: Okay, but after thou wast ripped, thou wast of woman born.

MACDUFF: I don’t know…

MACBETH: Wast thou ripped from a man?

MACDUFF: No…

MACBETH: Then thou wast of woman born, what’s the problem?

MACDUFF: I think, technically, to be “born” you need to pass through the birth canal.

MACBETH: No. If you exist, then you were born.

MACDUFF: I grant you it’s a bit of a gray area.

MACBETH: No! Any sane definition of the word “born” would also house the subcategory of Cesarean sections.

MACDUFF: Okay, thou hast no need to get snippy.

MACBETH: I’m not snippy.

MACDUFF: Thou ist. A little bit.

MACBETH: Well I’m a little stressed out right now. They said, “No man of woman born—”

MACDUFF: Who said?

MACBETH: The old ladies. By the side of the road.

MACDUFF: Uh… huh.

(CUT TO: Macduff and Macbeth by the side of the road, looking at three old dancing witches.)

WITCH: Dibble dabble dribble doo. Put a monkey in a stew.

MACBETH: Okay, well, now they’re just talking gibberish but before they said, “Fear not till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane” and—

MACDUFF: Which it did.

MACBETH: No! You dressed up like the wood. That’s not the same thing at all.

MACDUFF: Look. I’m just going to kill thee, okay?

MACBETH: No! Thou canst! Because thou wast of woman born!

MACDUFF: Okay, seriously though, thou needst to chill out, a little bit, with the “of woman born” stuff. Have you consulted a physician about this, or did you just declare yourself the expert on the differences between “born” and “not born”?

MACBETH: You want to consult a physician? Because honestly I would LOVE to consult a physician about this.

MACDUFF: Let’s go.

MACBETH: Let’s go right now, I’m not doing anything.

(CUT TO: Macduff and Macbeth in a doctor’s hut.)

DOCTOR: All right, explain it to me again?

MACBETH: Okay, Macduff—who is standing before you right here!—was he born? Or was he—and remember, we’re talking about this guy, who exists!—not born?

MACDUFF: Don’t forget, I was from my mother’s womb untimely ripped!

MACBETH: Yes, mother’s womb! MOTHER. OF WOMANBORN.

MACDUFF: Doctor?

DOCTOR: Yeah, I don’t know. This is like the thirteenth century. Medical science isn’t really… I mean, if you’re feeling sick, maybe you have a demon inside you and you could swallow a snake to find the demon and then the snake will eat the demon and you won’t be sick anymore, but then, yeah, how do we get the snake out, right?

MACBETH: Well, thank you very much; you were of no help at all.

MACDUFF: Look, I didn’t want to get into a whole THINGwith this… Yeah, I’m just gonna kill you now.

MACBETH: No! Thou ist of woman—I mean, is everyone else crazy here, or is it me?

(Macduff stabs Macbeth in the heart.)

MACBETH: Ow!

(Macduff shrugs. Macbeth dies. Then Macduff puts Macbeth’s head on a stick, of all things. Audience applauds politely, but secretly thinks maybe this Shakespeare guy is kind of losing it.)

Again, posting the link because it’s important to give credit where it is due!

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/macbeth-and-macduff-get-into-an-argument-over-semantics

OK…a quick little bit of funny for your Saturday night! Ciao, mi amigos! Until tomorrow with some silliness!

-C

Boozy Books: Candide

Greetings, lovely readers! It’s time once again for Boozy Books! From last week’s escapade into the Gothic setting and dreary tones of Jane Eyre’s woes, we jump into “the best of all possible worlds”. If you are a lover of the written word and/or 18th century French philosophy you undoubtedly know where we are headed…

Welcome to the classically satirical and outrageously funny world of Voltaire’s Candide: or, The Optimist. You’d think something first published in 1759 would have gone stale by now, but it is a masterpiece which still manages to capture (and caricature) the human condition. Following the adventures of the title character and his unrelenting optimism the story is styled quite similarly to the ever-popular bildungsroman and parodies several historical events as well as literary cliches. The entire story is essentially made up of thinly veiled sarcasm and, lover of sarcasm that I am, I have loved it since the first time I was forced to read it in high school.

We begin with Candide, a young man leading the life to which he is accustomed. Though he is a bastard nephew of the Baron Thunder-ten-Tronckh he lives well, in a castle, near the object of his affections, and tutored regularly by Pangloss, a self-proclaimed optimist who teaches his pupils that they live in “the best of all possible worlds” and that “all is for the best”. Candide truly believes in the philosophy of optimism (because he’s been thoroughly indoctrinated, of course), but as his adventures quickly and unfailingly become misadventures he becomes slowly disillusioned. He is exiled from the Baron’s castle, witnesses brutal and unprovoked deaths, he is forced into military service, he rescues the love of his life (repeatedly), and survives several natural disasters. All the while master Pangloss insists that “all is for the best”…

Candide is a fast-paced and often outlandish tale; deliciously ridiculous. It is also short and sweet, accomplishing a lot of ludicrousness in only 30 chapters while simultaneously establishing characters and plot points quickly and neatly. The situations and people depicted are absurd, full of misplaced hope and horrific, albeit terribly funny, stories (seriously, one character has suffered the loss of one buttock), but it is our ability as readers to acknowledge the truths of humanity that makes this satire really pop.

And now for the pairing. As sweet and unassuming as Candide is, traipsing through the shit of the world with a smile on his face, I can only suggest something light and bubbly. Champagne, of course! And being that Candide was written by one of the most famous French philosophers of all time, it is doubly appropriate. Bonus points if it’s a pink champagne.

So crack open that volume, pop the bubbly, and happy reading!

-A

http://www.amazon.com/Candide-Dover-Thrift-Editions-Voltaire/dp/0486266893

The Monday Muse: Never a Dull Moment

Good evening, Cactus friends! Welcome to this week’s edition of The Monday Muse. Something important and wonderful has dawned on me… Being busy is awesome.

This week has been an endless stream of auditions, callbacks, gym trips, luncheons, dinners, shows, writing, errands, and learning (and it was my birthday). It sounds like a lot and, trust me, it is, but I’ve found that my energy and optimism skyrockets when I have weeks like this. I stay away from social media and find that I have less of a desire to eat unhealthy foods since my body is in a constant state of motion. I sleep well, I’m alert, and I don’t dwell on needless problems and fears.

Now, compare that to the last two weeks when I was essentially glued to the couch. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good Netflix binge (hello, Daredevil), but being unoccupied I was restless, listless, and moody because I had nothing to do.

Of course, we can’t always plan the busy weeks in advance and down time is a must, but I feel motivated to keep up the pace. I feel like I’ve legitimately beaten boredom and it’s pretty amazing.

You don’t have to go to the extent I’ve gone, but I challenge you to add a dose of “busy” to your life. Try making plans to see an old friend or take the dog on a jog. Start a new gym routine or learn to play an instrument! Just throw something new into your schedule to shake things up.

Seriously, you’ll be glad you did.

-A

Silly Sunday: Really Silly

Apologies, readers of Nerd Cactus. Illness has brought one of your intrepid bloggers low, and it is only now that the pangs of nausea and the stabbing behind my eyes have retreated enough for me to both sit up and look at a computer screen without coming to the conclusion that demons are real. And after me. Right now.

But NOTHING stops a Cactus, so this is happening! Fortunately, today is for all things silly, so I don’t need to do much. And so…with my limited strength, and a few hours late, I present…something silly!

IT’S HILARIOUS! I love him and I want one.

And now…I’m pretty sure those demons might actually be real. Back to darkness I go.

Please don’t let them get me.

-C

Shakespeare Saturday: Fun and Games

Greetings, Cacti Cult!

Shakespeare Saturday has dawned upon us once again and in lieu of one of our lovely (though lengthy) analyses, I have decided today is the day to share the wonders of the internet. The internet loves Shakespeare about as much as we do and there are a myriad of memes and games to prove it. Below, Nerd Cactus has broken down the top three bard-based activities available on the interwebs for your entertainment.

giphy (1)

3. In Search of Shakespeare (choose your own adventure)

Ok, this one isn’t great, but it consists of Choose Your Own Adventure elements, which I kinda love. The game allows you to pick what topic to write about as though you are Shakespeare. Every time you “write a play” you either move forward towards success or plummet towards failure. I played twice and lost because 1. I was censored and 2. I offended the Queen and was tossed into the Tower of London. Honestly, I couldn’t help thinking of my many deaths upon the Oregon Trail while trying to win this thing… What really makes this game worth a look, however, are the history lessons embedded within (yeah, I know… but nerd is in the title of the blog, man). After each choice a “reality check” button appears to tell you how your choice stacks up to the 16th century reality. It’s fast, simple, and educational so go on and have a look!

http://www.pbs.org/shakespeare/game/start.html

2. Beat the Bard!

This one is actually super fun even if you aren’t particularly well-versed in Shakespeare (though it helps to know some of the major characters). It’s set up as a card game in which you and the Bard (cpu) each receive 10 playing cards. Each card represents a character from the Works of William Shakespeare and has a set of vital traits along with the character’s stats. Generally, you’re gonna pick the highest stat, BUT if you figure out who the Bard is playing based on the clue/quote on the back of the card you can make safer assumptions. Essentially, if you know the quote on the back of the Hamlet card and your character’s “Ham Factor” is an eight…. Don’t play it. Hamlet is guaranteed to be a ten.

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/ng-interactive/2014/apr/23/beat-the-bard-shakespeares-characters-fight-it-out-in-our-interactive-game

1. Sporcle Quizzes (Shakespeare Plays, Spoiler Alert: Shakespeare Edition, Murder or Suicide, and Shakespeare or Captain Picard)

If you haven’t discovered the magic of Sporcle in any capacity yet: for shame. Never fear, you’ll become an addict soon enough… Sporcle is the quiz site which claims to provide “mentally stimulating diversions”. Words were never more true. A simple Shakespeare search brings up a number of Shakespeare quizzes, all of which are a ton of fun. My favorites are listed above, though for those of you who know Shakespeare back to front there are some super challenging ones such as the Hamlet Soliloquy quiz or the Shakespeare Play by Stage Direction quiz (whoa).

http://www.sporcle.com/games/g/shakespeare

Have fun, my darlings!

-A

Oh, and just for fun… Here’s the Shakespearean Insult Generator. Y’know, for those times when modern insults just won’t do justice to the stupidity of your enemies.

http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/shake_rule.html

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