I </3 New York

March 28, 2009

For the past several months, my Friday routine has included eating lunch while watching the previous day’s episode of “Ugly Betty” on ABC’s website.  With the show now on hiatus (I’m not certain if last week’s episode was the season finale or just the last episode before a long break), I have to find something else to take the show’s place.  I have gotten so accustomed to watching something while I eat my lunch that I don’t feel ready to break the habit just yet.  My first idea was to see if ABC was offering any of the earlier episodes from season 3 of “Ugly Betty”, as I hadn’t watched them in forever and hardly remembered some of the content.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I had come up with an awful idea.  The first few episodes of the season were lame, and, for the most part, centered around Betty’s quest to find independence in Manhattan: a new apartment, more work responsibilities, and freedom from romantic entanglements.  In many ways, Betty is an unusual character and the show has a lot of unique and relatable characteristics.  The idea that the show’s protagonist wanted to avoid romance was refreshing, and I’m sure many young adults in Betty’s age range (22-25) have experience searching for the perfect apartment or striving for more meaning to their post-graduate employment.  There is one thing about the first few episodes of “Ugly Betty” season 3, however, that I find completely annoying: New York City.

If television writers are correct, everyone who’s anyone lives in New York City, or, to a lesser extent, Los Angeles.  Every other city in the United States is evidently full of Walmart-shopping, McDonald’s-eating hillbillies — the kind of unglamorous people that no television viewer would be interested in seeing on TV.  There are obviously exceptions to this rule.  “Frasier” lasted 11 seasons depicting life in Seattle and the U.S. version of “The Office” takes place in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  I’m sure there are other programs that aren’t set in NYC or LA (Boston, Chicago, and Miami are less common than the primary two offenders, but still horribly overused in comparison to the 19,000 other cities in our nation), but it really bothers me that an overwhelming majority of shows, both current and past, are.

During the 2008 election, there was a lot of talk about “real America” and “real American values” and “average Joes” —  enough of it to drive anyone to insanity.  I don’t hold the same opinions as those who were making these comments — ideologically I fall more in line with the liberal New Yorker views, not those of my home state — but I do believe that the so-called “middle America” has been largely forgotten by the entertainment world.  Listen to the commentary track for any episode of “Sex and the City” and you’ll hear series producer and writer Michael Patrick King’s unabashed admiration for NYC and his belief that the city is a significant fifth character for the show.  He and other New Yorkers display all the characteristics of brainwashed zombies when discussing their adopted home: as they talk dreamily of the city’s perfection, its diversity, its unexpected surprises, their eyes glaze over and their voices take on a tone of ecstasy.

A long time ago I read an article (or was it an interview? and who wrote/said it? I said it was a long time ago!) that lamented the overabundance of cop shows, hospital dramas, and courtroom procedurals on television.  In a season with a handful of new pilots, it said, the majority of them will fit one of those three categories.  I think workplace comedies can be added to the list, as well.  Even worse than the hackneyed environments offered by these programs, though, is the predictable fact that most programs on TV currently are set in NYC, and those coming out in the future will continue to be set there.  Never mind the ubiquitous presence of NYC in most movies; one would think there are no other inhabitable cities in the United States.

Even literature is becoming obsessed with the city.  “Chick lit” that depicts women navigating the turbulent streets of Manhattan in books like “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Something Borrowed” is all the rage in bookstores.  Harlequin has even added a line of novels called Red Dress Ink: “Fun, flirty and hip! If that sounds like you, then you’ll love our Red Dress Ink books. Read these sexy, funny stories that follow the struggles of dating, careers and romance in the big city!” It seems that writers, both scriptwriters and novelists, feel certain that women are desperate to escape their podunk lifestyles and experience the glamour of the big city, even if just for a few hours.

I know that this post is a little ranty and circuitous.  For the sake of clarity, let me be straightforward: NYC is not the center of the universe.  While some women may be interested in fantasizing about the possibilities of life in New York, I have no doubt that there are just as many women who couldn’t care less about the polluted, rat-infested circus.  Our nation is full of fascinating, lively, and culturally diverse cities, all of which would make for just as entertaining a setting as NYC and LA.  I’ve been to NYC, and I can say with certainty that I would never want to live there.  Why, then, do I have to be continually bombarded with television shows, movies, and books that worship at the concrete altar?  Entertainment industry: take a vacation or two.  I hear New Mexico is nice this time of  year.  Maybe you’ll get some inspiration.


New Hardware

March 26, 2009

When Warhammer Online’s 1.2 patch came out earlier this month, I was reminded of how old and underpowered my computer was.  I bought it in early 2005, when I was becoming heavily invested in playing WoW and was sick of trying to play on my perpetually over-heated laptop.  I tried resting the laptop on frozen food boxes, but it seemed worthwhile in the long run to just spend the money on a new desktop and save the laptop for my classes.

I bought a customized machine from Dell then, but, since WoW was not a very graphically taxing game, I skimped on many of the components.  Boyfriend determined that, since I was only playing WoW and not FPS games or similar, something mediocre would suffice.  For the past four years I’ve been gaming with a single core processor, a truly terrible graphics card (one that ultimately was switched two years ago for a hand-me down from a friend), and 1GB of RAM, upgraded to 2 when Age of Conan was released and my computer couldn’t run it.

Boyfriend built a new computer for himself last Christmas and recently upgraded his graphics card (he was having terrible issues playing WAR, we’ve decided it may have been a defective card).  I’ve been watching his screen longingly, wondering why my version of Avelorn (a beautiful region in the game) isn’t full of tall, fluffy grass and why I can barely see my own spell effects, never mind those of my friends or enemies.  So I gave in and indulged myself in a new setup.

The computer arrived today and I am pretty happy with the new setup.  Boyfriend spent about two hours installing all the parts and getting me setup; I’m extremely grateful to him for doing so.  I logged on WAR for a while and set my graphics to the maximum settings available.  Everything looked beautiful!  I was able to see things I never could before.  It’s hard for me to be terribly excited about the new computer, though.  Since I already had an upgraded hard drive, all my programs, my operating system, and my files were already in place when the new computer was built.  I didn’t have that new computer experience of reinstalling games and programs.  That process is a hassle, of course, but it really hammers home the feeling of having a new machine in a way that my experience today didn’t.

For those curious, here are the specs for the new setup:

  • 4GB RAM, DDR2 1066
  • Radeon HD 3870 graphics card
  • 650 watt power supply
  • Quad Core processor, 2.66 GHz, overclocked to 3.2
  • Motherboard
  • and a beautiful new case

The case and power supply came as a combo, which meant a nice $20 discount.  The graphics card might not be the best out there, but Boyfriend uses it and it had good user reviews.  I was fortunate in that everything fit, there were no missing screws, and nothing was dead on arrival.  I’m hoping that this computer will last me at least as long as my old rig.


March 21, 2009

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a secondary blog for a while.  On my primary blog, I write about Warhammer Online.  It’s a game that I love and hope to play for a while, but I recognize that eventually I will stop playing.  When that happens, my blog, hosted by the blogwarhammer server, will no longer be relevant.  I have come to love blogging, though, and want to continue doing so even after I’ve stopped writing about WAR.  For this reason, I’ve decided to finally establish a secondary, more general blog.

Girl Unplugged is a reference to the name by which most of my readers know me, Girl IRL.  Since this blog will focus more on my personal life and my interests outside of the WAR online community, I am thinking of it as a more unplugged, logged-off experience.  Expect posts that are somewhat more personal in nature than what I write on my WAR blog and that are unapologetic.  When I write on Girl IRL, I write as part of a community of bloggers and players, with an emphasis on positive and honest communication about the game we play.  Here, however, I am just me — a girl sharing her views and opinions about her world, a Girl Unplugged.