May 12, 2015

Sh*t That Got Me Through Freshman Year

Okay, so finals are done, which means I'm officially now all done with my first year of college! That's kinda cool. And, because I'm now a rising sophomore- and of course know everything there is to know about everything because, y'know, I'm in college so what more do I possibly have to learn- I thought I'd take a look at all the things that helped make this transition from home in a desert where the sun always shines and any plant life is brown to a green, rain-filled pacific place where clouds and grey skies are so ubiquitous so much easier.

(Obviously, keep in mind that this isn't all I did out of class. Contrary to popular belief, you have a lot more free time in college than you think, so while this looks like a lot, it didn't take up nearly as much time as one might expect. As I'll say again at the end, the true memories that I made during this time were with friends, family, and making new friends and taking awesome classes. Just bear that in mind as you read this; I'm not a completely sad loser person.)

First up, obviously, Netflix has provided a lot of anesthetics to my brain over the years, and college seems to have upped that dosage by a good twenty precent! In order, here are the shows I marathoned for the first time, rewatched for the millionth, and had my brain soak up so as to better equip myself for the shunning of reality.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer- Rewatched Seasons Four and Seven. Obviously, Season Four was the first thing I turned to in my first few weeks of college because the show itself is familiar territory that I could lean on in this time of transition, and Season Four is when Buffy began her college life, and true to form, I did in fact find a lot of comfort in this season. I watched Season Seven shortly after this because I realized that, out of all the seasons of the show, I'd only seen Seven all the way through once, so I gave it another go. Not nearly as bad as I remember, but my god, does it have problems. Same with Season Four, actually, but that one I watched mainly on autopilot.
  • Transformers Prime- This one I've watched off and on for the past year, obviously for review purposes, but also just if I want something running in the background, or if I want to stare at some beautiful animation. Again, familiarity was key in me watching this; Prime is something that I've followed since its inception, so again, I turned to this as a thing that I knew in an otherwise alien environment. Plus, y'know, Arcee's awesome!
  • Dollhouse- Ah yes, the most flawed of Whedon's projects (well, until recently, that is). I actually rewatched this thing because a friend of mine wanted to talk about it, and given that I'd only seen it once, I figured it might be good to give it another go before pulling random shit out of thin air to talk about. Rewatching this was a bit of a pain, especially because the later stuff is... well, really really bad, but I did find a kind of charm to this that brought me back to first marathoning it in like tenth grade or whatever, so that was fun.
  • Breaking Bad- The first of my new show experiences, this one kicked me hard and just left me there on the ground to feel around for my emotions! I loved this show! This was something that I'd avoided watching when at home because it takes place in my home town, and I didn't really want to have that in the back of my brain while living there. But I figured, now that I'm away from home, I can see what all the fuss is about. And holy hell, this one really impressed me! I saw it in a week, the week before the first semester's finals actually, which was kind of a mistake, but then I never did too well on the tests in that one class before watching this, so it didn't really hurt too badly. Seriously though, if you haven't seen this show, watch it! It's so good!
  • Frasier- Hand-in-hand with Breaking Bad, I decided to give Frasier some love because I love it, and it helped balance out the really depressing and bleak picture of Breaking Bad. This made me laugh and just appreciate the smaller things in life, and it's still a show that I'll go back and watch a few episodes from just to cheer myself up.
  • Friends- And here's the thing that took up a good thirteen days of Christmas vacation (yes, really)! I'd never seen this show before (again, yes really) and I'd always wanted to, so when Netflix announced that they'd be putting this up there, I was so stoked! And lo and behold, I was not disappointed! This truly is one of the best comedy series out there, and while some of the jokes are dated, obviously, the charm and wit and genuine care that everyone gives throughout the show's run is just amazing! I was hooked after watching it all the way through once, so throughout the rest of the semester I watched a few episodes here and there sporadically.
  • Daredevil- Thank god for new Marvel content, because Friends does get old if you loop it on and off again. Anyway, this series was really good! If this and Agent Carter (which I'll talk about below) is how Marvel does TV, then I can't wait for more the Netflix-original stuff to come out! This show was surprising in how dark it was but also how faithful to the comics it was too. I liked Kingpin's story a lot, and they really did some nifty stuff with Murdock's origins and backstory. Like any MCU production, this won't be for everyone, but unlike most other Marvel productions, this one feels more in line with mainstream audiences, and it's just a fun ride! This got me through a good two weeks of college (I wanted to pace myself after my Friends marathon), and it made some of harder stuff more bearable.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica- This show is something I've seen a few times now, and on a whim I just decided to up and watch it again. I forgot how much I really loved it, and seeing it again for the first time in a good two years really made me appreciate just how awesome and painful the story is (painful like emotionally, obviously; it's not like the story was crap or anything). This kicked off a good week-long trip down memory lane as I got back into the fandom and even bought myself a Madoka figma figure, something I'd put off before because I didn't feel I needed it. Well, I decided that I did need it, and so I got it... just in time for it to be packed up again in the great packing up of my dorm room.
  • Unbreakable: Kimmy Schmidt- Even so, I still managed to cram one more show in there! In the last week of classes and finals, I marathoned this, recommended to me by a friend, and really this was a great way to end the Netflix portion of my shunning of reality fully adjusting to the college life. The fish out of water story is played for all the comedic gold it can produce, and there's a real charm to a lot of the situations. There were a few scenes in here where I was just crying because I was laughing so damn hard! This is a great show, and a truly excellent pick-me-up if you're feeling down.
Netflix was not the only thing that occupied my time. There was also homework, but besides that, I also got a fair bit of reading done. Specifically three books.
  • A Dance with Dragons- I've talked a bit about this before, I think, so I'll just say that this was actually a really great way to transition from summer to college because, as I was on a transitioning journey from home to a new life, so too were many of the characters in the book on a journey of new identities, lives, and new locals. This turned out to be my favorite book of the series so far, and I think that's due in no small part to how relatable the situations were in the book to my own (in spirit, obviously; it's not like I was on a ship full of people hellbent on marrying a queen or whatever). I really loved the journey aspect of this book in particular, and I can't wait to read the next installment... provided it ever comes out.
  • Gone Girl- This was one of the books I picked up during my trip into Portland's Powell's Book Store, and it's the one that I had the most fun with and fell in love with because, god, the writing in here was just so perfect! This had so many twists and turns and really spoke to me as a writer. I loved the simple language of the work, and just the suspense and how it held you through the whole thing!This was a great escape book for me, and it had more than a little influence on my writing in class at the time too, so that was fun. Definitely one of my favorite books ever!
  • Worm- I know, I've gushed about this a lot, but dammit this book was freaking amazing! This was the thing that really intruded upon my academic life, as I actually dropped a class just so I could have more time to read this. Yeah. Not the brightest move on my part! Still, I think it says something about the work when it grabs you so much that you have to reorganize other parts of your life just to read more of the damn thing. To give you a timeline, this was around the same time I binge watched Friends, though obviously this took way longer. This series was amazing, and it's really kind of a shame that it affected me so much because now I can't read a normal comic book without thinking oh, look at how much more original and better Worm did that. But oh well. I can't wait for the inevitable release of the fully edited and expanded version coming I think in 2016 or '17!
  • The Name of the Wind- I actually got this for my birthday but didn't begin reading it until after I finished Worm. I'm still in the beginning portion of the book, so I'm not actually done with it, but that's only because school ratcheted up and I had to devote more time to it rather than reading this. I do like it though; it's like Ice and Fire lite. There's a real charm and warmth to the book that I'm finding to be a good contrast to that series actually, and it kinda takes me back to the beginning of the year when I was almost done with Dragons. So that's cool too. I'm hopefully going to finish it this summer!
Nope, we're still not done! Because as much time as reading and watching shows took up, I somehow still had time to watch an unhealthy amount of movies! Seriously, I watched a good three or four films a week at one point; not healthy!
  • Dredd- This was how it started, just getting to be bored on a Sunday afternoon, and wouldn't you know it, I just looked up this film and popped it in (er, I watched it illegally). I don't remember much about this one, though I do remember that I liked it more than I thought I would, and whoever did the sound mixing on it was really on their game that day!
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier- I hadn't seen this movie since I first saw it in theaters, and I remember really loving it when I saw it, so I figured I'd recapture that experience! And lo and behold, I did, kind of! Obviously, watching it illegally on the internet in 720P isn't the same as seeing it on the big screen (or on DVD, for that matter), but it was still such a fun film to rewatch! I loved seeing this again, and it brought back memories of seeing this with my friend over the summer. Again, to give you a timeframe, this was in the midst of my Dollhouse/Prime marathon, so things were still kinda tipsy over in college world.
  • Django Unchained- Man, this film! Holy hell, this film! I hadn't seen this one before, and watching it in my dorm room after a day of history class talking about slavery and all that really put a depressing cap to my day. There's a lot of blood in this, and some of the language in here can get a bit over the top and offensive, but otherwise, it's a powerful film. I debated whether I should watch 12 Years a Slave after this, and I decided not to. To this day, I still haven't seen that movie.
  • The LEGO Movie- I've done a Mini-View about this already, so I won't go into that here, but I will say that as far as cheerful, you'll-be-okay movies go, this one just takes the cake! And coming shortly after Django... y'know, it kinda was important that I put all my happy feelings and thoughts back together. I had on the biggest smile when watching this, and that smile remained for a good two or three days afterward too! Certainly one to put you into a good mood!
  • Her- This was, again, recommended to me by a friend. We were actually going to sit down together and watch this one, but we only ended up ever seeing each other in person twice over the whole school year this year. Yeah, whoever says actual interaction is alive and well is lying (or just has better time management than either of us). Anyway, I did end up watching this on my own, texting my friend afterwards to tell her how great this was! It was a great film, and I'm super glad I saw it, and had someone to talk to about it afterwards!
  • Kis Kiss Bang Bang- A film starring RDJ that isn't a Marvel movie! I know, it's kinda insane! But I guess he had a career before all that, so we have this. I find as I'm writing this whole thing that I watched a lot of comedies over the year. And I'm not really into comedies; I'm more of an explosions/action type of moviegoer, but yeah, I guess I watched a lot of comedies this year, likely as a coping mechanism, I don't know. If someone reads this and is a psych major... I'm so sorry! I'm probably coming across as one of the saddest people ever.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan- I watched this one more to pay my respects to Leonard Nimoy who sadly passed away this year. Not the most uplifting thing to watch in his memory, I'm sad to say. The film still hits you where it counts, and sometimes the smallest lines (like Kirk's remark to Spock in the beginning of the film, "aren't you dead?") just punch a freaking hole through your stomach. My eyes were wet through the entire film, I swear to god!
  • Age of Ultron- I know I had kind of a lukewarm reaction to this one, but the lead up to it and the social outing that this was for me was anything but lukewarm! It was me and a few friends, and we had this planned out well in advance! I even got my tickets for the film on my phone, to show you all how technologically advanced I am! Yeah, I was so stoked to see this, but more than that, I was excited to be out with just a group of friends to see a movie! And we had a great time in the theater! There was laughter and cheering and a great time was had by all! And what a way to cap off the year, huh? Seeing one the most explosive films with a great group of people; if anything captured for me the true college social experience, I'd have to say seeing this movie right here!
Also, as if this post isn't long (or sad) enough, I even got to keep up with on-air TV!
  • Video Game High School- I know this is technically a web series, but I'm putting it in here for the same reason I put Worm up in the books section, because this show really felt like it could be on a major network by its end, and because the quality was so professional and awesome. The third season got me through a few weeks of school in the middle of the first semester, and to me this was the strongest season out of the three. I really loved all the emotional punch that they packed into the various episodes (especially that one), and the finale was just go-crazy nuts! Just fantastic, and seeing this evolve from a mild very-okay web show to a thing that looked like it has the budget of a small indie film, that evolution is great and seeing it in action really thrilling! The third season of this kept me going and fueled me through some otherwise hard days in the middle there.
  • Agent Carter- Yes, finally talking about this now after alluding to it up above. Here's the short of it: this series was fantastic! We're currently seeing plans for a second season, and I'm excited. Taking a character as dull as Peggy Carter from one of Marvel's weaker films and putting her in her own show, like, you tell me that and I'm not optimistic. But then I watched it and holy hell, this might be one of my favorite things Marvel's ever done! And with a character who didn't have any personality or dimension to her at all in the beginning! If that's how Marvel develops its characters and makes their shows, then dammit, give Black Widow her own series right now! I loved this thing, and I'm excited that a second season is forthcoming.
  • Person of Interest- It just wrapped up its fourth season last week, and I'm so sad! But actually this show is still one of my favorite things on TV right now, and after that finale, I'm just gonna say that I'm stoked for season five! Tuning in to every Wednesday (or really late Tuesday night on some occasions), this gave my weeks a sense of structure outside of class (which, given how much other stuff I had distracting me... well as you can no doubt tell by this list, that's probably a good thing). I can't wait for this show to start back up in the fall!
Whew! There's plenty more that I did than the above that wasn't academic related, obviously, but y'know, my hands are getting tired from all this typing, and I figured that's enough of a peak into my really banal psyche. What kept you going for these past eight months?

It's been a great first year of college and I can't believe it's done! Of course, I did hang out with friends, made new friends, took amazing classes, and everyone who helped make this year amazing deserves a hearty thank you. At the end of the day, all that stuff up top there is just filler; the real moments that I'll not forget are the ones spent with friends, learning cool stuff in class, and generally just having a solid first year of college.

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