Sunday, November 18, 2012

On Tomb Raider, Muppets, and Not Being Taco Bell Material

Tomb Raider Redeux

In a fit of nostalgia, I recently ordered the first three Tomb Raider games from GoG. (Good Old Games.) Tomb Raider was my gaming gateway drug, and I’m reliving happy memories of having played it way back when Mr. Typist and I were shacking up in a crappy basement apartment, flat screen monitors were unheard of, and our little homeless kitten Seamus had just come into our lives via the jacked-open window in the computer room. There’s something comforting and Zen-like about the simplicity of the early Tomb Raiders. You align yourself properly, jump, grab and climb. Or, conversely, you shoot, roll, and flip. That’s it. Align, jump, grab, climb. Fire, roll, flip. Something in me longs for this sort of elegant limitation, a singular path.  

And it’s great to reconnect with Lara Croft. She possesses everything I do not—athletic prowess, determination, general ass-kickery, and courage in spades. She regularly takes down men twice her size. If she wants something, she doesn’t sit back passively like I do, hoping it will fall magically into her lap. She straps on her dual pistols and swaggers into treacherous, tiger-laden, trap-ridden ruins to get it.  She’s been an inspiration to me when I need to quit being a wishy-washy Libra pussy, woman up, and deal with conflict head-on. My mantra in these situations has always been WWLD? I love her and I owe her a debt of gratitude for giving me the guts and the sheer, old-fashioned intestinal fortitude to step up when I need to. The issues involved in her hyper-sexualization in later installments are a different story, as is the fact that I wish, wish, wish more than anything that the producers of this game understood that lots of women actually play Tomb Raider, and that Lara Croft represents something important and meaningful to us. And that she can’t get around in those tombs with D-cups. She’ll fall off the zip line. 

Muppets: An Early Indicator?

Somehow Mr. Typist and I got on the subject of Muppets the other day; I can’t remember how. I asked him who his favorite Muppet was, and he said it was Sam the Eagle, who I didn’t remember at all until he pulled up an old Youtube video of Sam making an anti-environmentalist speech. We both thought it was hilarious, but then Mr. Typist (who is a fiscally conservative libertarian and detests pinko liberal commie tree-huggers like me), got all wide-eyed and philosophical and said that his personality had formed very early and that he is convinced that your favorite Muppet in childhood is a statistically reliable marker of your adult personality. Which led me to try to recall who my favorite Muppet was. While I loved Gonzo, Animal, and that blond chick in the band with the big lips, I have to say that the one I looked forward to watching the most was the Swedish Chef, who Mr. Typist regularly accuses me of embodying whenever I attempt to cook just because I may occasionally leave a crumb or two of food around as I prepare a meal. Or, “massacre the kitchen” as he puts it. At any rate, I don’t know what liking the Swedish Chef as a child says about my adult personality, except that he was a complete mess. He was sloppy, amiable, laid-back, and he liked to sing. His hair was always in his face, and no one ever understood a word that came out his mouth. Oh, my God. Maybe Mr. Typist is right. 

Inquiring minds want to know: Who was your favorite Muppet, and does this reflect who you are as an adult? 

Not Taco Bell Material

I finally finished Adam Carolla’s new(ish) book, “Not Taco Bell Material”, and I have to admit I actually cried at the end. It’s a good book. I am so glad that Adam won at life. I know that I have griped about Adam here before (I was feeling crabby and generally picked-on as a woman at the same time his “chicks aren’t funny” mini-scandal hit), but, as evidenced here, I am a huge, if unlikely, fan of his. Coming from depressed, and in my opinion almost criminally negligent “parents” and growing up with no hope, no encouragement, and no adults around who seemed to recognize his talents, he managed to pull himself out of mediocrity and become one of the most popular radio personalities in history. 

The book follows his trajectory from high school football player to ditch digger to carpet cleaner to hammer-swinger to actor, stand-up, TV and radio personality, with all of the raucous and rowdy stories in between. What I loved about the book is how he frames everything in terms of where he was living at the time of the stories he tells. I really related to this, because I have a terrible time remembering dates and years, but I have a very strong memory for place. I remember everything by which apartment or house I was living in at that particular stage of my life. The dates I lived there are irrelevant to me. But I remember very clearly the one-bedroom just off 14th, the house on 59th, the aforementioned basement apartment, and the many, many places before that. There is something about relating our lives through place that really resonates with me. 

His final story in the book really got me. I won’t give it away, but it left me feeling hopeful and happy and deeply touched. If you’re out there, struggling and feeling hopeless like I did for many years of my life, take heart, and read Adam’s book. It’s fun and funny, and it will give you hope that you, too, will get through this and find a place for yourself.

--Kristen McHenry


Jo-Ann said...

Sad to say, the Muppoets were a few years beyond my expiry date. I did love Bugs Bunny and Sylvester and couldnt, for the life of me, understand the Road Runner... he (she?)always seemed kind of sadistic in a passive aggressive sort of way. The character that does stand out for me, however, is one from a book. I think I identified most with The Ugly Duckling (and only by the legendary times I supposedly asked my Nana to read it to me). Does she reflect who I am as an adult? Well, it seems to be my life goal to transform all my shameful, irritating and embarrassing inner parts, through either a change of perspective or of actual behaviour, to be aspects of myself that work for rather than against me. So, yeah, the ugly duckling has been my mentor.

Kristen McHenry said...

Ah, yes. I feel exactly the same as you do about the Road Runner. I didn't like him. Even as a child I thought he was sort of mean. I know that Wile E. Coyote was always after him, but still, I felt like the Road Runner should have given deference to the fact that they were obviously mismatched intellectually. I sort of felt for Wile E. He was a *coyote*. A born predator. How else was he supposed act? He was all instinct and craftiness, and little brains. The Road Runner was smarter and faster, but he rubbed it in a little too much, if you ask me.

The Ugly Ducking was always one I related to deeply, but I kept that to myself as a child because I didn't want to acknowledge how ugly I was physically. And I was worried I would stay that way forever, that the magical transition would never happen for me. Only for that one duck.

Joanne, you are one of the most beautiful people I know. And this line alone: "Well, it seems to be my life goal to transform all my shameful, irritating and embarrassing inner parts, through either a change of perspective or of actual behaviour, to be aspects of myself that work for rather than against me" is pure inspiration. There is nothing more gorgeous than that, you drop-dead hottie you!

Jo-Ann said...

Well! Back to you, hottie-two.