Hey Guys!

Also, I go to Africa, tomorrow, to visit Lindsay. Halfway packed. :)



I've been compulsively playing an internet game called 2048, lately. (I've heard it described as the less fun version of Threes!) For those of you who knew me in my college Word Challenge days, it's like that. I'm being consumed.

It's a fairly simple game, a four-by-four board on which you start with two pieces (either a two and a two or a two and a four). You use the arrow keys to move, and each time you move, another piece (either a two or a four) appears on the board. The arrow keys serve as a kind of tilt function. If you hit the right arrow, all the pieces slide as far right in their rows as possible. Same for the other directions.

With only 16 spaces available on the board, you run out of space rapidly unless you crash like numbers into each other. A two piece sliding into a two piece makes a four piece. Two fours make an eight, two eights make a 16, etc. The goal of the game is to get a 2048 piece. I have yet to accomplish this.

It's not a good use of my time, I admit. (Mitch actually told me on Sunday that it was kind of embarrassing how much I played it. I was like, "Embarrassing to who?! We're the only ones here!") I'm actually very stressed about my time management, lately. I have more responsibilities at work; I'm trying to write things and hang out with people; I want to work out, like, all the time. I'm so stressed about it, I need something mindless, I explained to Mitch. I need something to distract me from the pressures of the world and from my poor time management.

But, as I play it more, I realize there are hidden values - nay, Truths! - to this game. For example, I am now more familiar with the powers of two (mathematical, not mystical). When I'm with people, I imagine smashing them into one another to see what next human piece they'd turn into, which is fun. And the game could be used as an interactive representation of Hegel's dialectic - thesis, antithesis, synthesis, thesis, antithesis, synthesis - all the way up to the 2048 synthesis.

It's connected to life. As I now understand it, the game might even be a version of life, adult life. See, if adult life is a 16x16 square, every move in it results in another piece vying for one's time. Work. Chores. Passions. Relationships. Being ultimately unwell. We try to clear some space for ourselves by resolving these responsibilities and pressures, by smashing eights into one another. But the additional pieces keep coming. Then sometimes, when I'm about to lose, I have so many things in my life that I have one or two spaces left to work with and everything else is set and unmanageable.

That's how I feel now. (Not to worry anyone. As I mentioned before, I did go through a time of Word Challenge, and I got through it.)

The sad bit of it is, things felt more manageable before I started playing this game.



Shinho is my professor for Screenwriting. He's a gay, plastic surgery obsessed, Korean who writes violent (like banned in America violent) movies and loves drunk karaoke.

Every week, he has me watch two movies on a certain theme (love, addiction, jealousy, etc.) and then put together a film pitch based on that theme. This week was "losing a parent." For the NSA members reading this who don't know me, I've sort of lost a parent. It's all very complicated and sad and I don't like talking about it.

But the deadline for my pitch came and I only had one idea, my life. Ah... The write what you know thing is a bitch sometime. At the end of my pitch, I said: but I won't write this for years. I don't want to touch it.

Shinho lit a cigarette and told me I needed to write it now. I needed to be okay hurting myself. I told him that wasn't why I didn't want to touch it. (I actually like crying sometimes. I watch "To End All Wars" and "Fox and the Hound" just to make myself cry.) It's that writing about these event makes me feel like I'm wallowing in self pity and it's pathetic. I don't want to be a writer who thinks my pain is worth watching.

Turns out Shinho isn't the stereotype I introduce him as. We ended up having a long in depth conversation about abandonment. He said he used to be afraid of the same thing. He gave me some ways to distance the story from the truth and told me to write it. Write the thing I don't want to write.

So... why am I sharing this with the internet? Because it was important. I was a weird morning coffee moment that will have a lasting impact on my life. I think I'll look back and think of Shinho differently from now on. I'm sure that this person he showed me today is not the person he wants to show to the world, but I feel lucky to have had such a moment.

Next week, we talk about romantic comedies. Shinho loves romantic comedy, in spite of having written Chaser. But hey, Doug Wright wrote Quills and Little Mermaid Musical, so who knows. We have a history of him trying to get me to write rom coms... it's challenging. He's already told me I'm only allowed to kill one character.

Here's hoping for another weird insight week. 


Finishing Angel


The show Angel has its issues; far too many episodes are driven by one of the few female characters being captured, held hostage, or in need of rescuing in one way or another. There are no fewer than four strange pregnancies. It tends to be a tough world for the ladies while the run-of-the-mill male characters become inexplicably competent, strong, and danger-resistant.

In spite of that, I still finished and enjoyed all five seasons. (The fourth and fifth seasons turned things up a notch. Buffy and Firefly both ended, and I wonder if, because of that, Joss Whedon had a chance to give Angel more attention. Sidenote: with the Firefly's tragic demise, Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, and Gina Torres were all freed up to play the supervillains on Buffy and Angel. So at least we have that.)

Whereas Buffy the Vampire Slayer ends in systematic victory (hellmouth closed and hundreds of girls around the world empowered to be slayers), Angel ends as it promises, in defeat. Over and over in the show it's established that the senior partners (the bad guys) are unbeatable. They have been around for most of time; they have offices all around the world; they deal in everything. Angel and crew even moves in to their LA office and are complicit in their schemes for a while. There will be no decisive victory over them. The fight will go on forever.

In lieu of defeating the senior partners, the crew resolves to aggravate them as much as possible. In the last episode they make a strike on the biggest players, to the powers of darkness, that are available. Angel tells them, at the top of the episode, that they are not going to make it out of this. And by the end of the episode, those characters who have not already died, are up against an army of darkness. They stand to last about ten more minutes.

It reminds me of what I've read of Norse mythology. In it, evil triumphs:

"If the gods are finally helpless before evil, men and women must be more so. The heroes and heroines of the early stories face disaster. They know that they cannot save themselves, not by any courage or endurance or great deed. Even so, they do not yield. They die resisting. [...] In the battle between good and evil they will fight on the side of the gods and die with them.

"This is the conception of life which underlies the Norse religion, as somber a conception as the mind of man has ever given birth to. The only sustaining support possible for the human spirit, the one pure unsullied good men can hope to attain, is heroism; and heroism depends on lost causes. The hero can prove what he is only by dying. The power of good is shown not by triumphantly conquering evil, but by continuing to resist evil while facing certain defeat." - Edith Hamilton, Mythology

I respect the writers for ending the show the way they did, true to the tone and premise of the show, broody and unflinching.

It's not our culture's idea of how a good story ends. And we tend to shy away from entrenched evils because, we argue, it's always been that way, and things are unlikely to change. In a world of countless problems - cycles of poverty, institutionalized inequality, pain, death, heartache, et al. - it might be fitting to take on an attitude of Norsemen and of vampires with souls.


Annie Plays Halo

I had Annie play Halo with me, John, and all the good people online, the other day. She had only ever played once, before, and that was a long time ago. But she is a good sport, so it was a fun time.

She moved around okay. She took to continuously shooting the ground 15 feet in front of her in the hopes of getting lucky. At one point, John (our teammate) saw shots fly at him over his left shoulder. Concerned, he turned around to find that it was Annie, and then he got assassinated from behind by an opposing player.

When Annie's character died (one of the times), she yelled, "What is he doing!" as her killer hit B repeatedly over her dead body. Just hit X, blue skittle, I said. She did and her character stood up from the ground, grabbed the offending player, and body-slammed him over her knee, breaking his spine as she yelled, "I'm new! You have to be nice to me!"



Top Ten Sexiest Characters in Beauty and the Beast

We've come to end the age-old dispute over which characters in Beauty and the Beast are, in fact, the sexiest. A lot of blood has been spilled over this matter, family's torn asunder, and we, at the Westovarian, want to give the world a gentle nudge into an era where we are all a little bit more at peace with one another. Without further ado,

1. The Wardrobe - Great drawers. Good in the bedroom.

2. Lumiere - So slender. So smooth.

3. Belle - Okay, fine. 

4. Mrs. Potts - Supple. Often hot. 

5. The Beast - Belle didn't just kiss him out of the goodness of her heart, now, did she?

6. The Napkins - Nicely color coordinated. And they're just pretty. 

7. Phillipe - The Beast is also an animal, so.

8. The Stove - Mah mah mah mah mah mah

9. Cogsworth - He's, like, kind of portly and sassy. Seems like he could use a lay, and we always like to help a brother in need. 

10. Chip - We know you were thinking it. Sicko.

Honorable mentions: the feather dusters, the coat hanger, Gaston


April Fools

I was going to ask, on Twitter, whether there was any news that I should be apprised of. Because, see, it was a joke about my being uninformed and having to get my news from other people. But then I thought, there's no way I can do that because, with my luck, it'll be right after something really big and sad happened, and it'll look like I'm making reference to, and disrespecting that thing. 

Really big and sad stuff is happening all the time (probably). And this got too long for Twitter.