Monday, March 17, 2014

Hooked: When Addiction Enters Your Life

            This is a bit of a sensitive topic in a highly verbose blog post.  You don't have to read it if you feel uncomfortable about addiction, but you might want to as addiction has about as many flavors as fear does (just google "phobias").  I know that many people are going to say, "Bullshit!  You can only be addicted to illicit substances!" or something like that, but you have to understand that there is a thin line between dedication to what you enjoy and addiction that chains you to your vice.  For that I have the optional playlist of mine that I titled Addiction Blog Post Mix.

            For me, it's a touchy subject: Dad tends to say that I am "addicted" to the Internet.  And that really rubs me the wrong way, the same way that someone says, "I can't do that because I'm disabled," or "I'm Autistic," or "She's retarded—stay away from her!"  To touch a bit on this subject: GODDAMMIT!  You are a person, not a problem!  What do you like?  What do you want to do in life?  Do you want to travel?  Meet people?  Do you have dreams of doing something you've always wanted to do?  Well then, fuck the "being disabled," because you've allowed it to define who you are; you've allowed it to own you, instead of you owning it!  Much like Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider: the curse owned him for a while, but once the Devil said, "You are no longer my pawn," or whatever, Johnny went, "Fuck you, I'm not your pawn!  I own this shit, it doesn't own me!"  Your disability is a part of you, but it shouldn't define you.  That's why I say that I have Asperger's and a hearing impairment and depression and ADD!  I'll never ever say, "I'm an Aspie girl who is deaf and depressed and ADD."  Because that's not who and what I am; I am the Jedi warrior I make myself to be.  I want to look in the mirror and see what I want to be, not the traits I know I have that people don't like.  Yes, I put "Aspie" in my Twitter profile, but only because I'd run out of room otherwise!  It's easy shorthand!

            Anyways, sorry for that sideways segway into my rant about disability-and-identity.  But it does irritate me how Dad says that I am "addicted" to the Internet, because I don't like the negative connotations; in fact, for a while I used to say, "I'm connected deeply to the Internet," because I was hankering for the "social interaction" from Second Life.  (Mom's way of describing it is better: I would "get lost" in the Internet.)  But then I read about addiction in Chris Hardwick's book, The Nerdist Way, that, for some reason, I can't stop referring to all the time!  (JUST GET THE DAMN BOOK ALREADY!)  *Ahem!*  In the chapter titled, "Addiction-ary," he describes how he experienced addiction to beer; for many of us, the scientific term is "alcoholism."  And it opened my eyes up to what addiction really is: it's not the item that's the problem, it's the problems that a person has that they are trying to hide from by using the item.  What that means is that you can become addicted to anything, if you have the genetic predisposition for it, according to some non-Gallifreyan doctors.  Have you ever seen "My Strange Addiction"?  There are people who are addicted to collecting things, people addicted to eating things that aren't good for them at all, and there are people addicted to certain sensations that would just make this blog sound super creepy and weird if I ever mention it.

            And yet, once you get thinking about it, how can a crackhead's addiction be the same as alcoholism and Internet addiction and also addiction to food or sex?  It's not really the item; it's the feelings that the object of eternal siren-like desire that it brings to these people.  They're hooked on the good feelings that eating a lot of food or having sex or drinking or doing drugs brings them.  The equation is the same for everyone:

Problem → Need to feel good → Use of desirable object → Feeling good

But here's a tricky twist: addiction is itself a problem, especially if it interferes with your everyday life; so, in a sense, it turns into a thick, gummy, nearly concrete, manipulative frosting layer on the cake of problems and lies (PORTAL!) that you're dealing with.  So, there comes a time when you have to just sledgehammer that shit open in a giant epiphany moment of "What the fuck am I doing to myself?!"  For those of you having substance or gambling abuse and are thinking that, I shall include a list of numbers at the bottom that you can call for help.

            Anyways, I have discussed this with one of my witchdoctors (head-shrink!  HA!  Get it?!  #badpsychiatrypuns) and he did share with me this penny for my thoughts: you can enjoy something a lot, like sex or the Internet and that wouldn't be addiction; but when you enjoy it so much that you start to ignore your daily responsibilities that are needed (like hygiene, eating, work, family, real life friends), that's when it becomes an addiction.  You know the people who many of us label as "homeless," and  seem to just always drink or do drugs or whatever?  They are homeless because they were too busy being drunk/high to shower, eat, interact with family, pay rent, or go to work, and they got kicked out and have no place to go or no back-up plan for getting evicted out of their dwelling.  They're just stuck on feeling better and crave it so much that they can't quite move on from getting that fix.

            For Big C, it was alcohol.  He got into the never-ending party scene, he felt like he was in control of his forever yammering mind, he felt good, he let it get in the way of his daily responsibilities, his credit was ruined, he wasn't in the best of shape (besides round); essentially, he was a living buffet for a horde of zombies.  (He calls this phase of life "Peter Hardwick," aka "Chad Softwick," aka "Chris Fatwick," aka the fat drunk brother he never really had but someone kept alluding to during the early days of the biographical Wikipedia article about him.)  But on October 8, 2003, he was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, with Jenny NOT-AN-EXPERT-ON-AUTISTIC-SPECTRUM-DISORDERS McCarthy as the guest.  At one point, at the end of the interview, Stewart says, "Oh, by the way, Chris Hardwick works here now."  To which she responded with, "Really?  Cool!"  Stewart shot back with, "Yeah.  He gets our coffee." [audience laughter]  "Fu.  Cking.  BALLS!" Big C shares next in the text.  He was called out on one of his favorite shows for being a loser, "and the worst part was, he was right."  That sent him on a journey to sobriety and fitness, and 10+ years later, he's on top of the world as the sober attractive-yet-out-of-my-league-in-more-ways-than-one COO of Nerdist Industries, hosting a shit ton of shows like Talking Dead and @midnight, as well as the Nerdist Podcast!

            As for me, I will admit (wincingly) that I have an addictive personality thanks my half-Vulcan father's side.  And it is a little easy for me to get hooked on things that allows me to feel good (which I will not dive too far into because it's a little uncomfortable for me to talk about) but now I know better.  I've done a paper on drunk driving and I learned that alcohol can magnify the effects of antidepressants.  And with that in mind, along with my being prescribed with antidepressants and that looming genetic predisposition hanging over my head, I make sure to never really hit the point of "durrunk," (I never want to be Dalek-hugging drunk, but I'm such a lightweight that I'm sure that I'll pass out before then.) because I don't want to fuck myself over.  Which I'm actually making into a rule for myself right here and right now: never ever create a tolerance for alcohol that's above 24-oz of something.  I actually don't even drink
socially; I'm not anywhere close to being social drinker, as I am pretty much a lightweight in terms of alcohol tolerance and terms of how much out of shape I really am; so Musikfest is really only the time I would have 24-oz. of alcoholic something and just drunk dial my sister and go "I'm drinking lots of water," 3 times in the conversation (true story).
            But on the flip side, I was actually typing this post up at home instead of surfing the webs at the library on a Saturday because Monday-Friday this past week (the week of March 9th, 2014, when I posted my review of the premiere of Cosmos ASTO), I was there, getting some semblance of Internet access.  Every single day, during that time period.  And it got to the point of "I need to not go there!  I need to take a break!"  The reasoning behind it is that I felt that it started to really tug at whatever part of me that many Christians call my soul, the siren call of the Internet was really sounding itself until closing time passes.  So, I needed to #SEPARATE myself from the library on a day that it's actually open so that I don't wind up going over that edge of self-destructive library-internet addiction spiral of DOOOOOOM!!!!!

            It's an interesting idea to talk about and I really do think that everyone shouldn't have a vice.  I remember having on my old blog, a very explanatory blog post about the whole Straight Edge movement (It's a movement, Mom!  It's not a club confined to my college, but a movement that was all over the country!) being positive about "not drinking, not doing drugs, beware of the asshole hardliners!" and to be honest, I would never have been able to be truly straight edge.  Jonah Ray was, but I really wasn't because I got lost in the Internet that was Second Life, Twitter, Facebook, MMO games, etc.  And I can't just let myself get to that point again, because it created this black hole that swallowed the path I was on to "apparel design and merchandising" in my Family and Consumer Science major.  But perhaps I didn't want it; perhaps, super-subconsciously I wanted to do pure art, or something else that would satisfy what kind of future I would want, and I, instead, went, "I'll go into fashion!" to people to get them to stop saying, "You'll starve as an artist," and, "You'll never have a real future," to me, and then I set up some red-matter dynamite on that career path I was on, pushed down on the plunger of the detonator box and created this void that I could not cross that I'm sure four-dimensional me would be able to cross somehow in a way that I would not understand.

            Wow, that was a convoluted creative over-exaggeration of Freudian thinking of subconscious desires that I just described in half of a paragraph.  I think I'm turning into another version of the Bloggess.  OH CRAP!  JENNY!  HELP MEEEEEE!!!!!  I CAN'T HAVE TAXIDERMY IN MY APARTMENT!!!


Just Because the Phone's Right There: Some Helpful Non-Finger Digits

Here are some numbers you can call:

Alcohol Anonymous (AA): Okay, AA is good for people who need structure for getting back onto the "right" path, but it's not for everybody.  Big C admitted this in Nerdist Way and on one of his podcast episodes (the number of which I don't really don't remember) that it's just not the program he needed, he just did his own thing because AA never really resonated well with him.  He still got sober, stayed sober, and is doing well.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA): Spin-off of AA that helps deal with drugs and substance abuse.
            Website: This is a social network for those in recovery.  It's a thing that Big C discovered that he hasn't used, but it does allow you to connect with similar folks at varying stages of recovery with at any level of privacy that you would prefer.
            Website URL:

A Confession

            I have to say that I'm not an expert, much like Dr. Drew Pinsky and Dr. Phil McGraw are experts.  I'm just sharing my experience, adding in my thoughts and knowledge so that you may know of my views of the whole addiction landscape.  I still don't consider myself to be addicted to the Internet; but there is a danger for me to start drinking like it's going out of style.  For that, I must be careful.  So don't take my entire word for it as "expert advice," beyond "get help if you're suffering."  So don't be afraid to confide in people such as sisters and friends and therapists and faith leaders.  They can help you get started on the right path.  It takes a lot of support to get over addiction and to solve the core problem, so I ask of you all to also accept the support and help that works for you, or, if it's someone you know, just be there for them, without enabling by providing drug money, a place to stay, providing the drugs, etc.  They will thank you in the end.  Just don't give up because the journey to sobriety is a long, hard, rough hike through mostly charted territory that is easy to just give up on.

            Another confession: Most cigarettes are flavored with ambergris.  That's whale vomit.  Think about THAT the next time you light one up, readers!

            ENJOY YOUR SOBER TACQUITOS!  Unless it's tiramisu.  Or cheese fondue.  Or you're in Colorado.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Review of the Great Cosmos: A New Journey Begins When Another Ended

            Wow!  WOW!  I know this is a highly verbose review, but I am typing this up as fast as possible so that all the knowledge and impression of the show doesn't fade away from my brain or attention span!  The theme for this blog post is Snow Park by Connect Ohm!

            On Sunday, March 9, 2014, at 9:00pm EDT on all the Fox and National Geographic networks, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, author and hilarious scientist, led us on our first steps on a journey that Dr. Carl Sagan started a generation ago, on the show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (preceded by Cosmos: A Personal Voyage) with the (paraphrased) words, "It's time to get going again."  I've been treated to a perspective that the late loved Dr. Sagan has only introduced us to, to a thirst of knowledge that many scientists are trying to quench with new information about Life, the Universe and Everything (to which the Answer is 42!  HA!  Hitchhiker's Guide, people!  Come on, nerd out with me with that one shitty joke!).

            I have to say, the introduction was mind blowing!  I swear, all the visuals in the intro sequence gave my mind a blowjob!  I loved it so much, I think I was sort of drooling at the end of it, but only "sort of" because I was having dinner, my Soup of the Cosmos (which I will share the recipe to at the end of this post; it's perfect for people on the lower end of the income scale!).  Anyways, to have Dr. Tyson start the show at the edge of the very same sea cliff that Dr. Sagan stood on when he started his Personal Voyage is entirely poetic; it's like Dr. Sagan was still with us, continuing our journey through the universe that we dwell in.  I've been fortunate enough to be able to watch Cosmos: A Personal Voyage thanks to National Geographic airing it before the premiere of A Spacetime Odyssey.  We were taken on a journey of the mind, to the edge of our universe, being given our address in it, which I have to say is a little inaccurate: according to the Doctor of the Whoniverse, we live in the Sol system, on Sol-3!  Not just "the Solar System"!  So please, astronomers and astrophysicists, incorporate that into our universal address!  But I swear my brain was fried when we went a bit "Inception" with the Universe-inside-of-a-multiverse-that's-inside-of-another-Universe.  My nose didn't start bleeding, but at least my brain got a warm-up before the show: Journey to the Edge of the Universe, narrated by Alec Baldwin, describing our observation of the universe as we come across celestial bodies in the sky, such as "angry moons", dangerous hypernovas, etc, etc.; during that show, I managed to come across a realization of my own, Dr. Carl Sagan style:

If we were to travel across the Universe beyond our galaxy, we'd also be traveling back into time, as the universe is not only a bubble of a network, but also has a reverse sort of tree-ring effect to the point where the farther we travel from Earth to the edge of the Universe we live in, the more we travel into the older parts of the universe, and if we exited past the universe's threshold, we would've been able to witness the Big Bang, to which I ascribed the physical edge of our Universe, the Big Bang Threshold.

            Not only that, Dr. Tyson says that our Universe started out smaller than a subatomic particle; in a sense, it relatively still is if you're far enough past the Big Bang Threshold, outside of every Universe located within our multiverse; we're still smaller than sub-atomic particles in a universe before the Big Bang, like cells in the human body.  Yes, it's frustratingly confusing, but it really is Inception-like!  BWAHHHHH!!!

            I'm sorry, through that shared epiphany, if I made everyone's noses bleed and their brains hurt more than Chris Hardwick's and Matt Mira's did when Dr. Tyson described the Ascent of the Cubes in Nerdist Podcast episode number 139.  If you have to be redirected to it, I suggest you check out the bottom part of this ranty blog post.

            But I have to say, "Spaceship of the Imagination" is pretty cool, despite the name!  I would've loved to have kept the retro look Dr. Sagan had in his spaceship, but Dr. Tyson's ship is a bit cooler, having the ability to not just travel across space but also peer through time, with its poetic floor-portal to the past in the floor (archaeology anyone?) and ceiling-portal to the future (STAR TREK IS OUR FUTURE!  If we have not destroyed ourselves with the thermonuclear World War III or disastrous climate change due to our self-inflicted global warming!), and has a sort of gyroscopic sort of bridge in that spaceship (in a realm beyond ours that has no "up"?  Really, Dr. Tyson?), which, to me, is in the shape of a dandelion seed.  You see, the dandelion seed is quite an integral part of the Cosmos program, and Dr. Sagan used it quite a bit when he was hosting Personal Voyage, and it only seems poetic to be traveling on that seed throughout the universe as we know it, as the dandelion seed in the organic sense is actually an organism traveling in its own spaceship to someplace new where it can colonize the ground it lands on.  But I also have to say, "Spaceship of the Imagination," doesn't exactly have a good ring to it: I understand that it's, to put it in Dr. Tyson's words in Nerdist podcast episode #139, "a journey of the mind," but couldn't you just name it the "Tyson TARDIS"?  Or the A.S.S. Imagination?  Just saying.

            But the visuals were stunning, the inclusion of history in the science exploration, the addition of the multiverse inside of the lectures, the sharing of the perspective of our slice of time in the universe, how the birth of the universe and our existence would've looked liked spread over a Gregorian calendar year, how religion treated new ideas, all of it, to me, was pure GENIUS!  I was looking forward to this premiere, as my friend Jesse (who still needs to do that superhero blog post) also was, despite not having access to cable.  And I can't wait to continue on with our next steps in this journey of 13 episodes where we are enlightened over how scientifically accurate the theory of evolution is, and the whole Creationism issue may go back as far as the Big Bang, which I'm sure was not instigated by Stewie Griffin restarting his time machine.  Which is why during the show, I posted these tweets:

            And I hate to spoil it for everyone, but I have to describe the end bit: I saw all the old footage, and the Sagan seaside cliff bit, and I can't help it but I cried a little much like Matt Mira teared when he was watching the last shuttle launch of NASA, but for reasons a little bit different from what Dr. Tyson ascribed to him in that first episode of Nerdist podcast that he was on all that couple of years ago.  In fact, I tweeted this when it happened….

all because not only did Dr. Tyson talk about how much of a leader Dr. Sagan was, but he also suddenly pulled out Dr. Sagan's planner, and turned to the page where an appointment with a young Dr. Tyson was listed, and it was not only a tale of how a young man growing up in the Sky View apartments in the Bronx was influenced by his genius and his tutelage, but it was also, in Dr. Tyson's words, a sort of "passing of the torch," which made me think a little: Dr. Sagan would've been so proud of him, and he wouldn't have trusted anyone else to do the reboot of his show, because Dr. Tyson would've been the only one to do it right.  He influenced many scientists, much like Aristotle influenced many mathematicians.  He is the Aristotle of our time, and if he saw the show today, he would've approved, despite any flashiness.  RIP, Dr. Carl Sagan, wherever you are, whether you're in heaven, the great big observatory/laboratory in the sky or even in the fourth or fifth dimensions.  We miss you, even though I haven't watched your show before Saturday or Sunday, March 8/9th, 2014!

Our Universe Is One Giant Pot of Soup: A Recipe for the Soup of the Cosmos

            Because I was running a little low on food, I improvised my dinner, anxious to have it be done by the time Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (which shouldn't be "STO", because "STO" is already taken by Star Trek Online!  It should be ASTO, so as to not confuse people!  #addressingthiswiththehopethatIAmNotTooLate #longhastags #hashtaggingoutsideofTwitter) aired.  And I tweeted:

because I'm sure that it has not yet been done in detail!  Nerd-Chef Alton Brown might disagree, but goddammit, IT'S MY RECIPE AND I SHALL SHARE IT WITH Y'ALL FOR NEXT WEEK'S EPISODE!

Soup of the Cosmos (aka, Cosmic Soup)

Pasta In Potato Pot (aka, a saucepan that's the second to smallest you have)
1 ½ cup salted water
1/2 cup small pasta shells

Broth In Vegetable Pot (aka, smallest pot you have)
1 ½ cup salted water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon (or more) dried minced onion
½ cup panko bread crumbs

Fancy shredded Mexican blend cheese
Four packets of string cheese, unwrapped and chopped into 1/8-1/4 inch long pieces

  1.  Boil pasta according to directions.
  2. In small "Vegetable pot", boil water; crush and add chicken bouillon cube, stir.  Add basil, minced onion and panko breadcrumbs; stir, let sit.
  3.  Drain pasta when finished, return to "Potato pot" without heat.  Add broth to pasta, stir.  Stir in shredded cheese and chopped string cheese, making sure it melts.
  4.  Serve warm.  Makes two servings.
Isn't our Universe like this soup?  Isn't the basil like the asteroids and comets, the chopped string cheese like our planets, the pasta shells like our stars in the sky, the shredded cheese like the nebular clouds and the broth like the dark matter of space?  It's so poetic that I think it's appropriate for everyone to have.  Also, it's great for Lent because it doesn't have real meat!  It has chicken broth, but not REAL meat or poultry or pork!  Can't the bouillon be an exception to this, Church?  PLEASE?

           Anyways, I hope you enjoyed Cosmos ASTO just as I enjoyed my soup with it.  And I hope everyone gets to experience the enlightenment and pleasure of education in the hopes that we can all become smarter, we can all become nerds and continue to have intelligent discussions about science, the universe, the multiverse, and our place in the—SQUIRREL!  *scamper, chase, falls asleep and snores*

P.S. I have GOT to share this tweet!  This tweet won the Internets last night in my go Favorite and Retweet this, because it's HILARIOUSLY TRUE!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

War Horse: A Tale of Bravery and Magnificence

            Still no word on a completed guest post about superheroes (JESSE!  THESE PEOPLE ARE WAITING!) so how's about a review of a movie sans the Broadway show?  For this post, it's the (optional) theme song of the full War Horse Soundtrack.

            If anyone's ever heard of War Horse, they might think of the Broadway show, with the amazing puppets, and the brilliant actors making it all seem so real.  But the movie is just as spectacular!  You get all of these great shots where even the scenery gets to be the star of the show, where these 6-star actors (out of five, mind you) make your wildest dreams come true, and you are just taken on the journey, like a spirit witnessing the miracle of a horse surviving World War I, that many people thought was the War to End All Wars.  It was utterly brilliant!

            Not very many people realize that Steven Spielberg directed this movie much like Vincent Van Gogh created his paintings; he used the skies of Devonshire to his advantage, the moors like a landform just waiting to be used as a backdrop for an epic movie, he used the landscape to its advantage, the surrounding areas as part of this great beautiful story, and it seems that he sees it all in his mind and just HAS to make it real.  It all came together very beautifully as a work of art that tells this war story, this journey of a horse from birth to war to home again, who is a character in and of itself, that had to be trained to run into battle instead of away from danger.  In fact, Tom"Loki" Hiddleston, who played Captain Nicholls in this film, was witness to how Spielberg directed and constructed shots for the film; it might be a lot of hard work to other directors, but it was like "water out of a tap for him," because it would just flow with ease.  If I couldn't make it as a director for my Polar Vortex film, then I probably would've co-directed with Spielberg, because he's just.  So.  Brilliant!

            The acting was incredible, the horses were probably trained extremely^2 well to act properly, in the way that was just not only natural, but also like they are also the stars of the film, having to bear many a rider from many backgrounds on their backs.  And what's also great, having ridden horses myself until my teen years, is that they never had one shot in the film be of the horses taking a piss or a shit.  I'm serious, it isn't fun to have to wait around for the horse to finish their business for me to continue with dressage riding.  BUT(T)!  Squirrel moment aside, they were beautiful and they deserve their own stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and knighthood in the UK.  Of course, the knighthood will be up to Her Majesty.

            I have to spoil it a tiny bit.  Because there is just this one beautiful scene, one where I will not reveal where it lies in sequence of the film lest I spoil it for everyone who didn't watch it but SHOULD….  It's a scene where you're on the moors of Devon, and the skies are awash in the fiery sunset glow of the sun.  It's so beautiful, like the skies are awash with flame, and everything is lit in the firelight of the sky.  You can't help but just go, "Oh….my….GODS!  Someday, this HAS to be the setting for a photo shoot!"  (Heh, you might not go "PHOTO SHOOT!"  But, I confess that I actually did.)  But it was just so beautiful, like Spielberg's version of Van Gogh's Starry Night, with the color temperature thermostat set to warm!  All those oranges and yellows just giving it the right sense of amazing jaw-dropping BEAUTY!

            I also have to admit that I did not realize that it was a book FIRST…  I would LOVE to see the Broadway show for sure, but now I have to find the book and read it!  Because Mama always told me to read the book first!  However, I don't think Spielberg could do the book any more justice than he already did!  He did excellent with the firing squad scene, with the shot construction and execution, Tom Hiddleston did excellent as Captain Nichols, Benedict Cumberbatch was wonderful as Major Jamie Stewart, and it was just the right amount of jaw dropping beauty mixed together with emotions and storytelling and character AND DELICIOUS CHEEKBONES!!!!!  Even I would nominate this movie for every Oscar category, including made-up categories I'm still trying to come up with for @midnight's Hashtag Wars!