A year in objects

A new year and a new blog design! New Years Resolution number one: will stop talking about how terrible I am at updating this blog, because everyone hates it when people who post content talk about how inconsistent they are at posting content.

Anyway.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past year because a lot of stuff has happened. It’s my first year out of Michigan, first year in DC, first job. Making things has always been a coping mechanism, so it’s no surprise that over the past year I’ve done a lot with my hands, though I haven’t incorporated it into my TV-marathon-blogging. So here it is:

A Year in DIY Objects

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The West Wing, or on the power of powering through

I marathoned “The West Wing” about three summers ago, and started rewatching it last Christmas by accident when it became available on Netflix.  I decided I would watch a couple episodes from somewhere near the beginning of season one – I think I actually started with episode four. The reasoning was, if I didn’t start the show at the beginning, then I wouldn’t feel compelled to watch it all the way through, right?

If you look too closely at this photo, it's disturbingly Photoshopped.

If you look too closely at this photo, you can see it’s been disturbingly Photoshopped.

Ha ha!

Nope.

Over the years, I’ve matured as a consumer of culture, media, and politics, and it’s made me better equipped to approach “The West Wing” from a critical perspective. Of the shows I’ve discussed on The Completist so far, it is the one that suffers most from a complete rewatch.

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Cardcaptor Sakura: Girls Like Magic, Right?

When I was in elementary/middle school, there was a show on Kids WB called Cardcaptors. This was sometime before I got into anime, but right around the time that shows about collecting things – Pokemon and YuGiOh – were insanely popular with my age group.

Everything has wings! And lace! And petticoats!

Everything has wings! And lace! And petticoats!

The original Japanese show is a 90s classic – it is the quintessential shoujou anime (a show targeted mainly at girls) almost as much as Sailor Moon. Sakura is an often shy but brave 10 year old who discovers a book filled with magical cards that escape when she inadvertently opens it, and the guardian of the cards – now trapped in the body of a sassy plush toy – entrusts her with the task of recapturing them.

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Tamora Pierce and what it means to be a “strong female character”

I very clearly remember the book that made me want to become a writer.

For my ninth birthday, my best friend gave me a book called “Wild Magic,” by Tamora Pierce. She hadn’t read it, but the cover had horses, so…you know.

Those horses are a nine year old girl’s dream

I read it cover to cover. And then again. And again. I quickly discovered that Tamora Pierce had written not just “The Immortals” series – of which “Wild Magic” was the first installment, but had several other quartets of Young Adult novels set in the same world. The Tortall universe seems like your generic medieval world, complete with knights, magic, and monarchs. But for its target age group, the books are shockingly feminist, with deep political themes.

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Charlie Jade, or “let’s see how much plot we can fit in here…”

­“Charlie Jade” took me way too long to finish. The show is a joint Canadian-South African project, running for twenty episodes in 2005. This hardboiled detective-esque sci-fi mystery was short-lived, but a bold show that broke new ground for cerebral sci-fi.

OK. So I don’t lose you here: Cape City, Alphaverse (dystopia) – Cape Town, Betaverse (our world!) – Good Hope, Gammaverse (utopia)

The title character is a private investigator from Cape City, a dystopic version of Cape Town, South Africa with superior technology but a rigid caste structure. The Alphaverse’s environment so depleted, the ruling megacorp “Vexcor” is attempting to use a trans-universal link to siphon water from Gammaverse, a utopian parallel Earth.

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The First Post

I watch a lot of TV. No, correction. I watch a lot of television shows.  Not because I want mindless entertainment, something that you do as you eat or as you lay on the couch after work, but because the television series as a modern work of art. A new form of storytelling as sophisticated as the novel. (And some novels are not that sophisticated.)

I am also guilty of the recent trend of marathoning, watching several seasons of TV shows in short period of time. I consider myself a TV show completist – once I start watching a show, it’s very difficult for me to justify not finishing the series, especially if all the episodes are available. The idea of a marathon is nothing new – TV stations have been doing it for years. But now that many people have access to Netflix, Hulu, and other alternate methods, they’re cutting the cord, and embracing their content through the internet, where they set their own pace. Bloggers and even people on Amazon are making guides as to what shows are best watched in rapid succession.

There has been some debate about whether or not you lose the essence of a show if you watch it as a marathon. Do you lose the giddy anticipation of waiting for the next episode to come on next Friday at 8pm? Do you like the show less because you don’t get to simmer on it or discuss it for a week with fellow fans? As someone having done both, I disagree.

I followed the show “Fringe” religiously when it came on the air in 2008. When I couldn’t see it live, I watched it the next day on Hulu, and continued to do so until the series finale aired this past January. Now, as I’m re-watching the show with my boyfriend (we marathoned the first ten episodes, and now are watching a couple a week), I’m more surprised with how short the series feels. I almost can’t comprehend how they fit so much story into just four seasons.

The first time I watched the show, the first ten episodes felt slow and clunky, but when we watched them almost back-to-back, the story felt more coherent. I attribute this not to my familiarity with the story arcs, but to seeing the answers to questions in a timely manner. When you watch them one by one, it feels like a poorly constructed procedural with underdeveloped characters, but seeing it as a whole, you carry the characterizations and subtle moments from episode to episode, and are less likely to forget things you might have if you watched it in syndication.

I’ve noticed the other reason I prefer to have my content available all at once is that it forces me to stick through to the end of a show I might not particularly like. The AMC drama “Breaking Bad” about a high school chemistry teacher turned meth manufacturer after being diagnosed with cancer has received boatloads of critical acclaim. But when I watched it on Netflix, I don’t think that I would have stuck with the series past the first few episodes had it not been available on demand. More on that in a later post.

I marathon these shows because I want to get to know the characters, follow them through their triumphs and their tribulations. (And it doesn’t hurt that it gives me something to focus on while I knit and crochet.) So welcome to The Completist blog, where I will summarize my feelings and impressions of a show after completing a marathon viewing, and also maybe talk about a DIY project I completed in the meantime.