Sometimes as I people-watch, I pretend I’m an alien, and try to imagine how strange the things we do might seem to someone with no experience with humans. In no particular order, here are a few I enjoy feigning ignorance about:
The morning coffee ritual– Sleep inadequate to recharge daily energy levels in adults. Supplement required for productivity.
Children playing pretend– Instantaneous construction of increasingly complex false reality, usually while (mostly) conscious of its falsehood.
Singing– Experimental noises from the human throat meant for entertaining others or oneself. Usually louder and noticeably more tonal than speech.
A crowd at a sporting event– Adults playing pretend; two armies clash with one clear victor. A simple sense of morals, similar to their young.
Young women doing each other’s makeup– Bonding through mutual assistance to increase mating appeal.
Funerals– Collective support through gathering and discussion of deceased with acceptable (often encouraged) demonstrations of a sense of loss (in some cultures).
Dancing– Demonstration of physical ability through study and imitation of traditional movements. Self entertainment, a form of relaxation through solitary or collective physical movement, usually accompanied by music with strong attention to percussive instruments. Demonstration of rhythm (the ability to anticipate the next iteration of a percussive sound) and physical coordination to potential mates. Movement for the sake of movement.
Meditating– Attempt at alternate thought patterns and occasionally the eventual abandonment of the body through total lack of movement, vision, speech and interaction with anything.
Kissing– Physical contact, specifically with the lips, of one or more people to demonstrate romantic, sexual, or familial preference or greeting.
Telling a joke– Attempt to elicit a joyful reaction from others, usually to bond or gain acceptance.
I was at a friend’s place last night while a couple people played the new Lara Croft co-op, when my friend mentioned Beastlies. I said something like, I’m so glad I showed them to you, how is Grant? To which she said something like, he’s great, I’ve ordered three more. I lol’d, but shouldn’t have been all that surprised. Those little guys were made for people like my friend. While she was showing me the adorable ones she had gotten, I decided to take another look at the website, and BAM! there was Avery, just waiting, begging me to adopt him. So I did. I think he’ll get along fine with Gildon and Lani. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, when I reach a point where I sit down at my computer, look down at my little menagerie and say, “Jesus, what a huge waste of time and money. And they’re not even that cute!” I wonder if that’ll ever happen. I’m guessing not.
I recently got ramen with my boyfriend at my favorite noodle restaurant, Chabuya. Afterwards, we got milk tea at a nearby boba place, and wandered around in a little Japanese shop with random erasers, bags, teacups, etc. (that routine has become kind of a tradition). They sell all kinds of toys and figurines too, and when I saw this little tachicoma, I couldn’t resist. If you haven’t watched the Ghost in the Shell series, stop reading right now, call up your otaku buddy with bad skin and no girlfriend who watches anime all the time, and ask him to loan it to you. It’s 26 episodes of futuristic supercop detective work with a strong side of action and some philosophical musings about whether a machine of adequate complexity can be considered human. It’s a beautifully animated, expertly voiced, fascinating series that wraps everything up in an explosive bow at the end.
The Last Airbender is one of the best series (animated or not) of all time. Every time a watch an episode, I say something like, “Aww, [featured character] is the best!” I’m completely attached to every character, and each one is essential to the plot. With ten-or-so main characters and dozens of side characters, that’s a tall order, and yet I can’t think of a single episode that isn’t essential to their development and progressing the plot. In fact, one episode (Tales of Ba Sing Se) just follows some of the main characters around on their individual exploits for a day, and it’s commonly considered one of the best episodes of the series.
I watched the last bunch of episodes recently, and I remembered one more thing I enjoyed about the ending [the guy gets the girl, not much of a spoiler, amirite?]. When two of the main characters end up finally getting together, they hug, then they share a long awaited kiss. Why the hug? Because they’re friends first, no matter what happens, including romance. I love that. It’s completely believable for those characters, and a perfect way to end an action-packed, (frankly) stressful finale.
I cannot endorse this series highly enough. It starts out slow and childlike, then cranks up the heat and goes all amazing on us. It’s like crack, if that’s what crack was like.
I know I’m a couple millenia late coming to this party, but trebuchets are awesome. I enjoy the simple, yet elegant design. I love the use of various materials (cloth, leather, metal, wood) and distinguished concepts (slingshot, lever, gravity) that makes them work, and I love watching them hurl shit farther than should be humanly possible. I’m just such a fan.
Leave it to the Japanese to turn it into a gameshow of some kind involving a picture-in-picture reaction to the chaos unfolding. How many Gs do you think those people experience? Having poked fun at the Japanese, I seriously doubt that the French (or the Greeks or Chinese for that matter) never did this way back in the day. How brutal would that be? Take a prisoner, then hurl them back into their own camp. Wow. Color me enthused.
[I just looked it up on Wikipedia and found this gem: “Occasionally, disease-infected corpses were flung into cities in an attempt to infect and terrorize the people under siege, a medieval form of biological warfare.” I know I should be horrified by this but OH MY GOD that is such a great idea. Remember in Lord of the Rings when the Urukhai hurl the heads of the fallen men of Gondor back into their base? I was all, “Eeeew, that’s gross, hahaha, cool!” Anyway…]
Which brings me to the topic of the French. My slight dislike of them (based on some extremely stereotypically snooty–and downright mean–experiences I had in Paris over a decade ago, and my Australian family’s inherent, if harmless and often funny prejudices) is rapidly diminishing due in large part by their health care system (generous), their education system (boisterous), and the growing secularism of their government (awesome). And let’s not forget the most important part: trebuchets. Any culture that uses something that awesome deserves a second chance at my adoration.
So ok, French people. You’re got your second chance. Thrill me.