Literary Inspiration: Ready Player One

Ready Player One Collage

Fun fact: I’m a bit of a gamer.  Always have been, actually.  As a kid, I loved playing Q-Bert, Frogger and OG Donkey Kong on my family’s Texas Instruments rig whilst waiting for our gigantic claw-footed bathtub to fill.  Naked (and yes, there is a completely mortifying photo to that effect – a Polaroid, no less – and no, you will never see it!)

As a slightly older kid, I owned every generation of Nintendo and squared off with my friends every chance I could get – the Super Mario Bros. games were favourites, though I’d dabble in Sega titles from time to time.

Super Mario 1

In high school I fell in love with the Donkey Kong Country games to such an extent, I was able to parlay my mad skills into a first place finish in a Kong-centric drinking game during a big, multi-school party.  Yup, I was definitely the “winner” that evening. 😦  And I know I used to drive my best friend absolutely bonkers because I’d play while we were on the phone together, and she totally knew.  Sorry, Sandra!

Then one Saturday morning right toward the end of high school, my dad came home from a local garage sale and tossed me an open NES cartridge, saying, “Here, you like this zombie crap, don’t you?”  The game?  Zombies Ate My Neighbors, a super rare cult classic from Konami that went on to occupy my off-hours attention for the remainder of high school and most of university.  Trust my dad to just wander into purchasing one of the rarest and most beloved zombie games ever released for a buck at a garage sale. 😉

Between the end of university and the beginning of my Life As An Adult (still waiting for that to take hold, by the way) my gaming fields went fallow – access is key, and I didn’t have either of the big consoles at the time, or a PC.  Then I met Mr. Finger Candy and we got so serious so quickly, he MOVED HIS PLAYSTATION INTO MY APARTMENT.  This really warrants all caps, because at the time, this was basically the equivalent of him leaving his penis at my apartment all day long – that’s how important that PS2 was to him (also one of the ways I knew how very serious he was about our relationship, because he was willing to entrust his most beloved possession to his new girlfriend and her roommate, who played the CRAP out of it – particularly the badass snowboarding game, SSX – every chance they could get.)

PS Nails

Then a couple of years after we got married, Mr. Finger Candy introduced me to the Sims.  And the next four months are largely unaccounted for (beyond knowing that I spent nearly every second of them in the guest bedroom crafting a glorious desert trailer park filled with pirates and carnies and ill-tempered ex-celebrities.)  I haven’t played with that level of intensity since (and that’s probably a good thing; the Sims is, shall we say, demanding of one’s time) but I’ll still dabble from time to time.

The Sims

I was for a time also completely obsessed with this totally messed up American McGee game called Alice: Madness Returns.  It was an utterly beautiful game, and the visuals were just incredible, but yeesh, what a mindf**k.  I adored it, and indeed, I launched this very blog with some of those working-way-beyond-my-comfort-level designs.

alice-butterflies

And my husband is a pretty hardcore gamer, clanning up online with a bunch of buddies to run around and kill virtual things every weekend, be they rogue military factions, zombies or rogue military zombie factions.

The Division Hand

So still lots of gaming in my life, then, now and probably always, so it’s a no brainer that I was drawn to 2018’s Ready Player One, a Spielberg-directed Amblin throwback of gigantic nerd proportions inspired by the 2011 novel of the same name by Ernest Cline.  I adored the movie – spunky kids saving the world from fantasy-based destruction! a giant melee fight scene scored to Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It! and an incredible mash-up of about 200 competing video game, movie and TV titles, including The Iron Giant, Halo, Pikachu, DC Comics, Overwatch, Back to the Future, Gundam, Jurassic Park, Hello freakin’ Kitty, and an absolutely incredible scene set within the world of The Shining that’s worth the price of admission alone.  I loved it.

I loved the novel, which I read in service of my friends’ reading challenge for the second theme of “You saw the movie but didn’t read the book…now read the book,” ever so slightly less, simply because it was so intensely detailed and relentless in its references to tech and nerd culture, I found it hard to map the overall story.  It was a really enjoyable read – fun, lively, and with so many delightful little nods to the games and movies that have shaped my life – but I could also never quite shake the feeling that I was sitting an exam on 400-level nerd culture for which I had not studied, and I was about to fail HARD.  This is one of those books that probably requires a second read-through just to pick up the smaller details you may have missed the first time around.

Ready Player One 2

Barring one or two deviations, the movie and the novel tell the same story: It’s the year 2044, and everything sucks.  Humanity’s just given up on trying to solve its unsolvable problems and has retreated into an online mecca known as the OASIS, an unending virtual playground where you can do or be anything you wish.  In Columbus, Ohio, a poor young man by the name of Wade Watts has spent the past five years trying to solve a puzzle left in the OASIS by its late creator, James Halliday.  And Watts is far from the only Gunter (egg hunter) hard at work on cracking the puzzle, because the player who finds Halliday’s easter egg will assume total operational and financial control of the OASIS, a property estimated to be worth nearly two trillion dollars.  With that amount of money and power on the line, the hunt for Halliday’s easter egg lures in more than just the Gunters, with the world’s less morality-minded organizations lining up to lay their claim to the egg.  IOI, or Innovative Online Industries, an outfit that sells medically questionable allotments of ad space AND correctional services, is at the head of those companies, devoting nearly the entirety of their significant operational budget to the search for the egg through any means necessary.

When both the book and the movie open, Wade and a few friends have cracked the first clue, with IOI nipping close at their heels.  And the rest of the book follows this back-and-forth between the independent and corporate forces as they try to assume control of the OASIS for their own ends, peppered with about nine bajillion references to popular culture, technology and hardcore geekery.  There’s also a bit of romance in there.

Where the book and the movie really deviate is in tone, with the movie striking that perfect Spielbergian note of sassy childlike wonder – bad guys are trying to trying to take something good and make it bad, let’s stop them! – while the book went for something much darker.  In the movie, Wade’s parents are dead, victims, he insinuates, of a harsh world ill-suited for good people.  But in the book, you find out that Wade’s parents, paying no heed to their duties as caretakers, destroyed their family and died badly, Wade’s mom overdosing and his father dying during a failed looting attempt.  In the same vein, the IOI of the movie is almost quaint in its forgotten era bad guy tactics, with the book IOI just straight up throwing people off balconies.  But apart from the darker content, the book is just missing that sense of innocent wonder that made the movie such an appealing adaptation in the first place.

Ready Player One 1

But I really liked Ready Player One, sped through it like a beast in about three days, nitpicky little details notwithstanding.  I like these nails I did, inspired by DOS lettering, a lot less.  This is what happens when you refuse to use nail art stuff like striping tape that might make a design that needs to look precise look a lot more precise than it does.  Which is not one bit!  Egads, would you look at that S?!  On second thought, don’t look too closely at it – that thing is atrocious.  This is definitely one for the redo pile, perhaps the next time I reread Ready Player One.

Handbook for the Recently Diseased

handbook 1

Deceased.”

Hey, so check out this awesome Christmas gift I got from Mr. Finger Candy!  As the little (removable) sticker in the top right-hand corner states, this is a set of note cards and other stationary-type items (oh, how I love paper products!) housed in a box designed to look like the battered Handbook for the Recently Deceased from my favourite movie, Beetlejuice.

handbook collage 1

Inside there’s a mess of Beetlejuice-themed goodies, including cards, envelopes, stickers and a cute little notebook with an MC Escher-esque Sandworm on the cover swallowing its own tail.  Careful, buddy – I’ve got it on good authority that you’re 100 percent non-natural polymer clay, so you might want to take smaller bites.

handbook collage 3

And because this is me, I just had to do some inspired-by, matching nail art.  I’m not sure how successful I was at capturing the very retro design on the cover of the Handbook; things got quite muddled once I added the matte topcoat.  It *did* lend the manicure that sort of undone, shaggy appearance that cloth-bound books begin to take on after a millennium or so of sitting about, but it’s not a look I deliberately set out to create – just one of those random moments of nail art kismet.

handbook collage 2

I’m so delighted with this present!  I actually wasn’t expecting anything this Christmas, because my husband and I decided pretty early on in the season that we’d instead put our earmarked funds towards another trip to Disney in the new year.  But if he’s not as big a Beetlejuice nerd as I am (he’s not) then he’s definitely just your garden variety nerd (he is) because I think this awesome gift speaks to him as well – who wouldn’t want this sitting all nonchalantly on an end table?!  My man knows me – us – so well. 🙂

Disney Girl Challenge: Oh Look, Another Glorious Morning

Hocus Pocus Collage 2

…Makes me sick!  As Winifred Sanderson of Hocus Pocus might say, here represented in tiny lacquered form alongside her witchy sisters, toady Mary and nitwit Sarah.

I am a late, late convert to the Cult of Hocus Pocus, much to the chagrin of a number of friends (hi, Jessica!) who swore up and down that I’d absolutely adore it.  Except the first time I really sat down and attempted to watch it early last Fall, I couldn’t; it was goofy, shrill and shrieky in a way that just doesn’t ring my chimes.

Then we went to Disney World to celebrate our Halloween anniversary, and that’s where we both fell in love with Hocus Pocus.  At this time of year ’round the parks, particularly the Magic Kingdom, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the reach of this movie.  Disney has leaned into their also-also ran Halloween hit (the first being The Nightmare Before Christmas) in a big, big way, creating an entire stage show – the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular – around Winnie, Mary and Sarah Sanderson, complete with a raucous, audience-“hypnotizing” version of I’ve Put a Spell on You.  It probably doesn’t need to be said that there’s also an absolute ton of merchandise available.

C6

The thing that nabbed us, though, was a 24-hour Hocus Pocus marathon that ran on Halloween itself.  It was one of those things we just sort of absorbed via exhausted osmosis – too tired to even reach a hand over to change the channel on the remote, we lay there, collapsed on our beds, and gave ourselves over to the Sandersons.  Compounding our confusion somewhat was the fact that over that weekend, we were seldom in our room, out pounding the theme park pavement from dusk till dawn instead.  So we’d return to our resort room just in time to catch wildly out-of-order snippets of fake cops, dead man’s chungs, flattened cats, the chocolate-covered finger of a man named Clark and mortal busboys.  Having never seen the movie from start to finish, it was a complete mindf**k, like wandering into somebody else’s Hocus Pocus-tinged acid trip.  It was really so much more engaging – if not utterly confusing – that way!

And so after that, Hocus Pocus just became one of “those movies” – a film you love more because of the events that happened around it, and less because of the actual movie itself (which, over many repeated viewings – linear ones, too! – has really endeared itself to me.)  On our most recent Labour Day trip, the “too exhausted to change the channel” pick was Die Hard 4: Live Free or Die Hard (a nearly necessary bit of gratuitous violence and snarky Justin Long to balance out the relentlessly saccharine sweetness of a day spent at the Magic Kingdom; I love the place, but Disney truly has precious little edge.)  Pretty sure we’ve watched it a dozen times since returning home, because it conjures up sweet, pleasantly exhausted memories of our great trip.

Hocus Pocus Collage 3

Just like Hocus Pocus!  You guys already know that when I really like something, I put it on my nails, and the Sandersons have proven to be no exception.  I’ve also added these manicures to my casual, year-to-year Disney Girl Challenge, wherein I attempt to do a manicure for every Disney character bearing two X chromosomes.  In hindsight, I probably should have added Dani and Allison to the list, but I thought I’d start with the main draws.  Besides, do the Sandersons look like reasonable women who like to share?  No, not particularly!  But I’m sharing, because I’m not a witch…or am I? 😉

Fall Fun Fridays: Dropping the Blogging Ball

Leaf Collage

Good morning, friends!  If you’ve followed along with my last couple of posts, you know I started off the week with a power outage, and am now ending it with a cold.  In between I sneezed a lot, and re-bought the entire contents of my refrigerator.  Every part of my body aches today, but my heart aches the most for Ottawa’s small business owners and restaurateurs – anyone who deals in perishable goods, really – who lost tens of thousands of dollars in spoiled stock over the weekend.  Food waste makes me feel punchy; that we were all, to various degrees, subjected to this little (or not so little) indecency is just compounding my poor, sickly mood.  It’s been a weird week.

Today’s Fall Fun Friday prompt – that’s the little blogging collective I’m part of – was to discuss the books, movies and television programs you’re anticipating this Fall.  I’m pretty well ride-or-die for only one show, and that’s The Good Place, which premiered last night (no spoilers, please, it’s sitting on Apple TV waiting for one sneeze-free hour!)  Aside from that, I’m looking forward to Brooklyn 9-9’s move to NBC (their Halloween episodes are wonderful, and build off the previous seasons’ episodes, if you’re into that kind of tightly knit continuity, which I am.)  I’ve got one more episode of Castle Rock to tackle, if I can just get over the “WHAT IN SWEET, FROSTING-COVERED HELL IS GOING ON HERE?” of it all (what’s going on is I could stare at Bill Skarsgard’s cut glass cheekbones and giant, wounded eyes all. day. long, and yes, I’m totally that pervy old lady; my favourite headline about the guy is from a Mashable article titled “It’s not Bill Skarsgard’s fault that he looks like hot Satan,” heh.)

On the cinema side of things, I’m quite pumped for Wreck-It Ralph 2; Vanellope Von Schweetz is a mouthy little heroine of mine.  Hmm, that’s about it for movies, or at least new movies.  If we’re talking the things I watch every Fall and Halloween, we could be here for a while (The Nightmare Before Christmas, of course, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, a weird new obsession with Hocus Pocus because I can’t get away from it at Disney.)

As for books, get back to me when I’ve finished Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin, a dense (in terms of writing and subject matter) examination of the collapse and subsequent bailout of the American banking industry in 2008.  I won’t be enjoying anything until I have that craven lot of greedy ghouls out of my head.  It’s been an incredibly frustrating and eye-opening read.

My blogging friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid are sure to have some great recommendations of their own, so I’d implore – implore! – you to pop on over and check out their autumn picks.

And now I’m going back to bed with a box of tissues.

All Tangled Up

All Tangled Up

This manicure started out life as an allover floral design in celebration of the first glorious days of May (5 Days in May, perhaps?  That’s a Blue Rodeo joke, and I don’t think I could possibly be more Canadian than I am right now.)  Anyhow, after I had pulled out an assortment of polishes in the exact same hues as Rapunzel’s dress in the animated movie Tangled, I decided to go with that instead.  I always think the scene where Rapunzel and Flynn Rider go to the lantern festival in the kingdom is very May Day in its depiction, so this fits.

And because it’s my blog and I’ll talk about Disney if I want to, here’s a photo of Mr. Finger Candy posing in front of the Tangled bathrooms (yes, bathrooms, and they are the loveliest lavatories on property) during our Halloween 2017 trip.  Turns out both he AND Vladamir enjoy collecting ceramic unicorns, who knew?!

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Aunt Bethany’s Jello Mold

Aunt Bethany's Jello Mold

“Aunt Bethany, does your cat by any chance like Jello?”  Behold, Aunt Bethany’s Festive Jello Mold nails, with extra cat crunchies!

Fun fact: For every bang-on and deeply unsettling impression of the Grudge ghost, the Mars Attacks aliens and Gollum that my husband can fire off with the greatest of ease, I can pull off a righteous Aunt Bethany from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  It’s all in drawing out those long “W” sounds – “Clawrk, is Ruwsty stiwill in the Nayvey?” is a particular favourite. 🙂

I’ll also point out the smudged bit on my index finger, so created when I looked down and realized I had topcoated a cat fur into my manicure.  This has to be one of those life imitating art kind of moments (or art imitating life?  Or would it be life imitating art imitating life?  I think my brain just broke.)  In any event, I think Aunt Bethany would approve of the furry addition, even if I didn’t care for the blemish.  I suppose it really doesn’t matter, though, when you’re talking about a cat food-studded Jello salad!

Clueless About Dieting

Clueless About Dieting

Or would that actually be Clueless ON Dieting?  Because this manicure represents Cher Horowitz’s confession to her best friend Dionne that stress has her indulging in a very heifer-like diet (as if!) of “two bowls of Special K, three pieces of turkey bacon, a handful of popcorn, five Peanut Butter M&Ms and, like, three pieces of licorice.”  Just missing the licorice, but then again, you can’t miss that which you don’t like in the first place, and I’ve never developed a taste for licorice.  I’m down with the rest of that stuff, though, just maybe not at the same time.  Maybe.  I don’t know, bacon and PB M&M popcorn cereal bars *could* be a thing, right?