Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting out the flood

Well, I had a quite an eventful day today. I’m currently interning for the local news station, where I follow around different reporters and mostly just watch what’s going on. I'll do little things to help like offer suggestions on who to interview or carry the equipment and sometimes- if there’s time to kill and they're feeling generous- they'll let me shoot some footage (I once shot like 30 seconds of cans for a food drive that appeared on the news- that was kind of cool). 

Sent to cover a story about a local fire, today we took the live feed van, which made it quicker and easier to upload video from the field. It was kind of like what you’d imagine a slightly out of date high tech van would look like: crammed, covered in switches and wires, with a tiny little shelf that served as a desk and a small black stool. All that was missing was the lone gunmen (seen x-files?).

Anyway, we’re in this van when we get the assignment to film some footage of a storm about an hour away. That wouldn’t be too hard except, as we drive into the storm, we realize the windshield wipers aren’t working properly. But, it’s only lightly raining, so it’s all right. Then it starts raining harder. Then it’s pouring. Then, it’s hailing.

So now we’re on the highway going 60 + mph with a windshield wiper that’s half off in a giant van with a satellite on the roof in the middle of a thunderstorm. The rain’s coming down in blankets and we can’t make out a thing, so we pull over to the side of the road. We could feel the ground shaking when the cars sped past, and we could see the lightning through the cascade of water in front of us. The driver wouldn’t let me take my seatbelt off, because he’d seen cars get hit on the side of the road before (apparently, it happens more than you’d think), so I sat there, strapped inside a metal vehicle waiting out the storm.

Sometimes that’s all we can do: wait.

I used to hate waiting. It was the worst feeling in the world with me, second only to boredom, which usually come hand in hand. But then I realized that waiting isn’t so bad when I don’t look at it as waiting, but look at whatever I’m doing for whatever it is. Today, it was staying inside a car during a storm. That wasn’t so bad. At least I wasn’t out in the rain. I had water and music and someone to talk to. Once I stopped looking at it as waiting for the storm to pass, and started looking at it as being in a storm, it became a completely different experience.

Still a scary experience, but one much more bearable than boredom. So with a little hope, faith, and optimism, we waited out the storm and made it back to safety (2 hours after I was supposed to get off work), only to be called to another flood. This one was right across the street from my school.

Here are some of the pictures:

I’m so glad that’s not my car! One thing that was nice to see though was a man with an SUV who was helping tow cars out to safety (seen in pic above). He didn’t charge them or anything, just enjoyed off-roading and giving people a helping hand.  

Monday, June 27, 2011

Psychology of Superheroes

As a follow up to my last post, I stumbled across this site, which I thought was interesting. It's all about the psychology of super heroes.
Psychology Today, the superheroes blog

Here's a post they have on X-men: First Class, which includes some of the things I talked about in my last post on being different, both internally and/or externally, and also on the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which they're relating to Xavier's comment to Erik that his maximum potential lies somewhere between anger and serenity.

There are also posts featuring all our other favorite heroes, including Thor, Spiderman, Superman, Wonder woman and us- the loyal fans. If you, like me, are interested in psychology and super heroes, it's definitely a site to check out!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

X-men and Comic Books

I saw the new X-men movie (X-men first class) about a week ago and loved it. I’ve been a huge x-men fan for a long time now, ever since the second movie came out and my mom took me to see it in theaters. I was hooked. I went home, watched the first one, returned to the theater to watch X2 again, then went to barns and noble and started on my large collection of graphic novels (collections of bound comic books). What can I say? There’s just something about teenagers with flawed and dangerous super powers that attracts me.

For those of you who are not comic book fans, and scoff at the idea that they have any value beyond pure entertainment, I’d ask you to reconsider. Take Spiderman, for example. The story of the web-slinging teenager is a classic heroic tale, yet it is filled with life lessons and societal morals. The champion of good overcomes much peril in the form of physical enemies as well as his own self-doubt and insecurities. In Amazing Spiderman # 36 he contributes by helping NYC with the aftermath of the all too real terrorist attack of September eleventh. In the Ultimate series, there is a greater focus on his home life, on his struggle to maintain his ‘normal’ teenage life, including relationships, school, and work, while still making a difference. He has to determine when to make sacrifices and when sacrificing goes to far. For, as the classic quote goes, "With great power comes great responsibility." 

The X-men have always been my favorite super hero team, because, unlike Spiderman, Superman, and Batman, they aren’t trying to be heroes, but trying to overcome real life struggles. As many of them are teens, they’re trying to find their place in the world, learning the balance between blending in and standing out. In a world where mutants are seen as less than human, they are all faced with prejudice at one time or another, choosing to cope how they see fit. Some want to blend in to society, while some want to stand out. The balance between changing who you are to fit in, and staying true to yourself when the world seems against you, is something many teens struggle with today, whether it be because of race, gender, religion, sexual preference, appearance, interests, and many more subtleties most people wouldn’t think would make a difference. Everyone has to grow up and find their place in the world, deciding who they are and what they stand for—super heroes and real life readers alike. 

So, then comes the question “Well, if you want to read about real world problems, why not read mainstream fiction? Why all the super powers?” There are many answers to that. It all comes down to personal preference, really. I’d rather read about a mutant who needs to learn to control their anger because they could accidently kill someone if they didn’t, than an ordinary girl like me who could get grounded. Realistic problems can hit too close to home. Comic books, as well as all works of sci-fi and fantasy, give us the illusion of an escape from the real world by showing it to us in a different way, allowing us to break down the defensive walls we put in place and look at human nature and ourselves from an artificial distance. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Of Ringwraiths and Editing

Well, I officially went back over my work and read it from start to finish yesterday. It was hard at first, because my mind was yelling at me that it had heard the sentences a hundred times before and it wanted something new. I could wallow in self-pity, thinking my work is worthless (which did cross my mind), but then I went to watch the Lord of the Rings with my friends (which makes it into my top five all time favorite films-I’ve watched them at least ten times each), but I couldn’t make it through the entire first one because I’d memorized every line. So how do we get through that boring repetitiveness we’re innately against?

Ringwraiths. When those ringwraiths pull out their swords, or even just show up all creepy, covered in mist, something inside of me clenches. And when they start towards poor Frodo… It’s scary. It’s painful. It’s universal. Even though, not many of us can say we’ve come face to face with a ringwraith, we all know too well what fear and pain is. For me, the real strength of a story is in those scenes that are packed full of well-delivered emotion. Those are the ones that will draw you in time and time again.

All it took was coming across one emotion packed decently written scene in my own work, and I was able to read from there on out without glancing away from the screen. The only problem is, sometimes, I get so drawn in that I forget what I’m doing: editing.

I had to divide it up between editing for content (ie: is that the right response? Would this character really want to go there? Is she really smart enough to figure that out? Is he really dumb enough to push that button?) and editing for grammar/typos (ie: “I don’t think he was shitting his wallet… that “I” should be a “U”).  That being said, I don’t trust myself enough to catch every little mistake. I have a few fantastic friends (including my amazing father who corrects all the science part of my science fiction world) who have agreed to edit it for me. Hopefully that will work out, but the idea of paying a professional editor is still floating around in my mind as a strong possibility.