What Fresh Hell is This?

There are few stranger planes of existence than the world of online dating.

Knowing what this is now about, if you feel the title is now a bit dramatic, I assure you it’s not. So there.

First, a few semi embarrassing statements to help set the stage for this little affair: I could be classified as what’s known as a ‘Late Bloomer’. I’ve had many strange and varied experiences, but enough little ‘rites of passage’ seem to’ve passed me by to raise eyebrows. One of them is dating. Until recently, this never seemed like that big a deal. Suddenly though, and it could have something to do with being halfway to thirty… It is.

So in the spirit of not dying a spinster, I threw up a profile on Let’s Date, the Suicide Girls’s dating app. I called it a social experiment; it’d be fascinating to see if I got any responses at all. You create a card with enough statements to define yourself to the rest of the world (somehow), and people decide whether or not they’re into that. If they like you, they hit a button, and you’re told someone likes you. Eventually, if you come across their card and decide you like them and happen to hit the button as well, you’re told you’re a match and a date is (usually) set.

My very first match? A cute yet quirky girl (I’m Bisexual, by the by.), who shared enough interests with me to get me interested. It all seemed perfectly harmless… Until I happened to scroll down and catch her Twitter page.

Turns out she’s a Financial Dominatrix.

I won’t say her name on here, that’d be unkind. But after reading through her feed, where men of all kinds begged for her attention in some pretty scary/hysterical ways, and going through her website where there was more of the same… I chickened out. It’s not that I would never, but… Not right now.

Not too long after that, after some equally strange interactions, I pulled myself off the app. Thinking for some strange reason that a new spot would be better, I then threw up a profile on OKCupid. Again, I operated under the giggle worthy ploy of it being a ‘social experiment’.

When the messages actually started coming though, I didn’t have a clue what to do with them.

One guy told me I was a tease. Nothing else. Another guy said I was cute and all, sure, but we had some fo-real sexual disconnects. This, of course, came without me actually answering any sex based personality questions. Girls were either very close to their mothers, or too cool to talk to the likes of me. I tried not to read too much into that. Or any of it, for that matter.

More and more, I found that it was both harder than just going out in public to a bar (Who the hell are you dealing with? Is that picture even real? Craigslist Killer, anyone?), and a hell of a lot easier (If you don’t like them, just stop talking. They can’t follow you. At least… As far as you know.), but still confusing. Really, really confusing.

This did, however, lead me to my first date. I messaged back and forth with a guy for a a while, he seemed reasonably intelligent and made me laugh. This is, by the way, the easiest possible way to win points with me. Make me giggle, you’ve got your foot in the door.

W and I set up a dinner date and met up at six o’ clock sharp. I showed up early and waited inside, compulsively fixing my hair, checking my face (even though it wasn’t made up) in the mirror, wondering if there were any adjustments I could make that would somehow help this process I knew absolutely nothing about. You know, the girly stuff you say you’ll never do until you’re suddenly doing it. You sad bitch.

Suddenly, a tall skinny guy in glasses walks right by me. I smile and say hello, he says hi back, and continues on into the restaurant. It took a few seconds before he realized he’d just passed his own date, and for that date to realize she’d just been stupid enough to look her date in the eye and not recognize him.

After being thoroughly embarassed, we went to get a table. Cut to awkward talk finally melting into a fair amount of good conversation and laughs. He was nice to talk to, and I’m hoping I was too. But he had one failing, and it was the strangest I’ve ever experienced; He had no problems. He’d never experienced stress. Nothing bothered him, and he was perfectly content with his life.

Ouch.

Still, it was a good time. And after exchanging numbers, off we went to our separate domiciles. If he hadn’t dropped contact for two weeks and then popped up again wanting to get together, it might’ve worked out. Thankfully though, working with a nice little cross section of males meant I had multiple opinions on hand to explain these things to me so I didn’t think I was getting worked up and woman-y.

He’s not contacting you within the first week? He doesn’t give a crap. He’s texting a few weeks later? He’s bored.

Bye bye, W.

So, diving back into the pool once again. There’s a small pile of new prospects that might pan out well, might turn out to be just friends, or might turn into nothing at all. But I have noticed just how stupid that bit of stigma that’s latched onto online dating actually is. In spite of the few differences, it’s all exactly the same; the awkwardness, the potential for axe murder, the creepy, the gag worthy, the laughs, the fuzzies, all of it.

Which means sometimes you can’t help but dwell on why that cute girl gave you a one sentence burn and completely blew you off. Or knowing that very pretty guy was never going to message you back, but being unable to help trying in the first place.

But hey, it’s the internet. No big thing, right?

… Right?

Oh God, what hellish existence hath I wrought?

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Five Things I Learned From Shooting My First DSLR/Horror(ish) Video Ever Ever

I would’ve done this a while ago, but I didn’t realize there was a post in this until now. Call it obliviousness to excess, call it being very silly indeed (and if you do, say it in a Monty Python-esque kind of way), whatever.

First, the specs; I have a Canon Rebel EOS t3i, 18MP with a 18-55 mm lens. (I know, I know, but there’s a process to getting the next one. It’s special process called ‘Waiting for Taxmas’.)  To edit, I have my trusty iPad (known as iSherlock, by the by), with all the graces iMovie can bring.

Now the situation: I’ve been on Vimeo for a while now, watching and admiring the work of others with only the slightest shades of bitterness. They had the resources, I didn’t. Until I could get the money, I’d have to appreciate and draw what I could from them.

Until now!

Now that I have my own little piece of shiny (not up to date, I’ll grant you, but still solid and mine), I’ve been taking pictures and putting them up on DeviantArt, and looking for the inspiration to cut together some new little videos someone might actually be interested in aside from me. Naturally I want to be happy with what I do first, but it’s always nice to have that little extra piece of satisfaction when someone else gets interested.

And then I found it. Vimeo has Weekend Challenges, where they post an idea and let creative types floating around the site run with it. The Halloween challenge was, essentially, to create something spooky in under a minute. I decided to go as simplistic as possible; I’d film a walk up the street in my neighborhood, and through the power of selective editing and sound effects, make it scary. Thanks to the power of freesound.org , I got everything I needed for sound effects.

Now let’s find out what I learned on this little venture…

1. Handheld, no matter how ‘natural’, is still steadier than you think. Numbnuts.

My thought, undisputed in it’s genius, was to play with going handheld. I wanted the viewer to be able to feel like they were looking through the walker’s eyes. I held the camera at eye level and did the walk with not too firm a grip to try for the natural bounce that comes with walking. Wherever my head turned, the camera would turn. Whenever I looked down or up, so would the camera. All this made perfect sense at the time…

I think you can see where this is going.

Upon viewing the finished product, it looked like my poor Walker Girl (she’s a girl because she was me, and I’m a girl) contracted some sort of palsy and/or randomized failure of neck muscles. Either that, or she’d developed a severe case of Fish Eye. Wibbly wobbly doesn’t even begin to describe it. Safe to say that alone made the footage entirely unusable. But hey, now I know.

2. Make sure everything you’re using has the capacity to actually do what you think it does.

I first used iMovie when I was still going to school in Boston. It’s Apple’s easier, lighter answer to Final Cut, and I recommend it if you’re not doing anything too involved with what you’re shooting. Even if you are, entire movies have been cut on it, so I still wouldn’t discount it. After getting my iPad, when I discovered the app for just five bucks, I jumped on it. But aside from messing with a few videos I made on the iPad itself, I’d never gotten to use it much. So, naturally, I didn’t have a clue that doing this on an iPad, and doing it on a Mac, aren’t exactly the same thing.

First off, the camera exports its footage as a .MOV file. The iPad won’t take them. It just won’t. After converting it to .MP4, which the iPad likes so much better, After uploading, I realized it sent the footage direct to the videos section, and that wouldn’t export to iMovie. At all. So after some obsessive Googling, because I refused to be beaten (thank you very much), I found Dropbox. One of those Cloud knockoffs, essentially. I had to load the file to Dropbox, then download it to the iPad through the corresponding app. To say that this took an age in which even Lazarus would’ve gotten bored enough to find a way to die for good is not even an approximation. But I did it. The best part? I exported the finished product into an e-mail for a friend, a copy of which I sent to myself. The file… Was an .MOV file.

3. Even if some of the best things happen off camera, horror does seem to require a few visual elements to provoke an emotional response. Duh.

I’ve written scary things, but I’ve never shot them. Safe to say that in spite of the absolutely great sounds I found (frightened breathing, a beautiful inhuman snarl, and a particularly perfect scream , just to name a few), there was nothing to imply any need to be scared. The idea was that Walker Girl would be stalked by some beastly monster, and after being startled a few times as it got closer, would be finally taken down.

Upon looking over what I did, I could see the camera didn’t move quick enough during the startled shots, and it was just way too bright. Sure, part of the challenge was to try and make it creepy anyway, but oh God was it so unfortunately bright. You just couldn’t buy it. At all.

4. Rhythm is everything.

Another idea I had was to make little jumps in time during the walk to make it pre emptively disorienting before you even heard that first growl. Let’s just say it didn’t work. You couldn’t tell the little jump cuts had been made somehow. I’m still working that one out. At any rate, I tried for a rhythm of threes, one jump every three seconds. After all, I only had so much time.

Looking at it now, it should’ve been something a bit smoother. Maybe a 4-3-4 kind of thing. At any rate, something to think about next time.

5. No matter how obviously doomed it is, finish the project.

This one is the most important of all, I’d have to say. Doing these small little training wheel exercises before I attempt anything bigger, given just how green I am, is a big deal. I knew the second I saw the footage that this wasn’t going to work. I still spent the hours it took to transfer the video, find everything I needed, and cut it down to the best possible finished product I could. That way, I can sit back after and figure out what I did wrong, and what I’ll do better next time.

Said finished product is absolutely not going on the internet. I showed it to a few of my roommates, they were as amused as I was, and I’m comfortable with that. I can congratulate myself on the sound effects at the very least; I love everything I found, and I think I layered it in well. The ambient sounds, footsteps, growling, frightened breathing… I even layered in her breathing so there’d be a change when my poor girl started freaking out.

At any rate, awful as it turned out, it was fun. Botching it means I’m just going to have to try again sometime. I’m looking forward to it.