Sunday, October 29, 2017

Movie Tips Volume 3

Blade Runner 2049 ****1/2
(2017) Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford
Oh wow. It’s rare to find a sequel so legitimate and responsible. Add a lot of spectacular visuals and moral and emotional depths worthy of the original masterpiece. Significant achievement which I know a lot of people don’t get for some reason. Loved it.

The Nice Guys ***1/2
(2016) Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe
Almost took a pass on this and glad I didn’t. Very decent performances raised a competent script to a very amusing level. Let’s give them a mulligan on the cringe-worthy Abbot and Costello homage scene; shall we?

Blazing Saddles **
(1974) Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder
Eyebrow-raising experiment with the undisguised aim to offend every possible population segment as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Achievement unlocked.

Cloudburst ****
(2011) Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker
Cute story with a very amusing Dukakis performance.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things ***
(2015) Dan Harris, Joshua Beck
Worthwhile look at one of the many lifelines for mankind’s tenuous future, all of which must come together and soon. And almost certainly won’t. (Netflix)

For Ellen****
(2012) Paul Dano, Margarita Levieva
Loved this simple, sensitive little Paul Dano gem. Don’t be disappointed in the ending. It’s perfect!

Rogue One****
(2016) Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk
As a kid, nothing could, or would ever, beat the magic of Star Wars epics A New Hope or Empire Strikes Back. But as a flawed adult who just may have lost too much innocence: This was easily the most amusing and competent Star Wars flick yet; magic falling no longer on the radar.

Blue is the Warmest Colour ****
(2013)  Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos
Brilliant vertical movie. Simple plot. An exploration of human fallibility as rich, textural, sensual and intimate as you can find. Very special. Try not to view the sizzling lesbian sex as pornography! I thought it far more sincere than that, and perfectly appropriate to the rare goal for which this film strives.

The Crucible ****
(1996) Daniel Day Lewis, Winona Ryder
There’s an alarming and dated feel to this witchy Salem thriller packed with dynamite Lewis scenes. I’ll even give Ryder the thumbs up for surviving the horrendous task of having to dance so dangerously close to the line of satire without stepping over.

Oz the Great and Powerful **
(2013) James Franco, Michelle Williams
Oh dear. This looked to me like an aimless and pointless pile of doo-doo. Did I miss some irony somewhere? I fear it may indeed have been an aimless and pointless pile of doo-doo. Let’s hope I’m somehow wrong.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind ****
(1984) animated film by Hayao Miyazaki
Such a strange and sober quality to this wide-eyed tragic anime genre whose waters I dip my toe in so infrequently. This one is a classic and I can see why. I wish Earth Writer would view it. I felt all along it was the kind of story she would write.

The King of Comedy ***
(1982) Robert De Niro
Dark unsettling material in drag as light comedy: The flick mimics the mind of the hero, or anti-hero, played perfectly off-kilter in that subtly dangerous manner that is classic De Niro.

A Brilliant Young Mind **
(2014) Asa Butterfield
The monotonous main character performance was probably not Butterfield’s fault but more the director’s. Nor is he to blame for the sadly contrived ending. Give this a pass.


The condo construction office is a trailer basically stuffed with thousands of technical drawings. Literally thousands. They’re laid out in giant booklet form on two great worktables, they’re hanging from rack hangers. They’re rolled into giant rolls and stacked on shelves and on more shelves and standing in bunches on the floor in every corner.

Also of note, in this trailer, is my fat ass on an office chair watching a fail video on my computer while dipping my spoon into a brand new 650 g tub of strawberry yogurt…

…when the chair suddenly bucks. And I jolt so bad that the yogurt tub flies from my hands.

Oh... Oh does it fly.

I have no recollection of its entire unauthorized flight path, surely complete with some number of ricochets, and no ability to reconstruct it based on the patterns of carnage left behind. It looks like a sustained food fight broke out in here.

About 200 g of yogurt remains in the tub which I have picked up off the floor.

Here’s the list off all the things that got splattered with the 450 grams or so of wayward yogurt which I had to clean up:

laptop computer (screen, keyboard and left hinge area)
laptop chill pad
reading glasses
water bottle
the floor
one wall
one window
three table tops
one robust wooden table leg
three (fabric) chairs
one shelf
one file cabinet
somebody’s boots
large utility tub
laptop power cord
my jacket (lining and exterior)
duty cell phone
(sorry, that was me scraping dried yogurt off the ‘M’ key)
circular saw blade
oxygen bottle
wall/ceiling molding
my pants
my shirt
my arm
my face
probably my hair; I don’t know. There’s no mirror in here. And last but not least:
one technical drawing. Just one. Out of thousands. It’s an honest-to-god miracle.

And here are the cleaning supplies I had to make do with:

my tongue
refrigerated bottled water

Thank you for validating this experience with me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Planet? What planet?

I really must urge the good and intelligent people of the world to stop using the word planet…

When we’re talking about the environment, I mean; when we say we’re killing the planet; we’re ruining the planet; we have to save the planet…

The planet is a great mass of material caught in our favorite star’s gravitational orbit. I don’t know of any power we currently have to interfere with that.

And the pinheads of the world sort of know that. The deniers of the world (who I happen to believe should be logged in a database by the way, so that if depopulation ever becomes the popular solution we’ll know exactly where to start), who obediently follow their feelings so much more than logic or education, have very trustworthy feelings that this great big planet is not going anywhere. And they’re right in the short term, regardless of climate change, but of course no world in the universe is permanent and in the long term the sun has big nasty explosive plans for us, regardless if there’s a tree, bee or human being left on this surface or not (in a couple billion years).

My point is: Climate change warnings sound ever so less relevant when talking about the planet than when you talk about the actual item of concern, which is of course the biosphere.

We need to talk about the biosphere, and not just to be accurate, but so that the unconvinced might pay a little more attention and that people everywhere might begin to take a bigger interest in what the biosphere really is: which is of course a fragile, limited portion of the planet which must exist in order to support life.

And It is not just air and trees. It is also (for all intents and purposes, if not precisely according to official terminology) soil, oceans, fresh water, wetlands, biodiversity, minerals and toxic filtration (I.e.: the oil in the ground which belongs there for a reason and that only lunatics would dig up and burn, thus destroying the system and - to boot - releasing all those toxins into the air where they least belong). All these components are completely interlinked and dependent on one another and vital to the biosphere and vital to the existence of life, and all of them are very seriously compromised and becoming more so every single day and with every single industrial activity we indulge in. There is in essence a measurable sum of biosphere capacity which is rapidly shrinking. Some of these components are more than half destroyed. Yes, that’s a fact, and most of them, in the case of individual failure, will take the whole biosphere down with it, baby, cradle and all.

Biosphere, folks. Biosphere. In a sane world it would be the most popular word of the day.

Not that I’m claiming to be especially sane these days. I’m just saying.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

He’s and She’s and In-Betweens

I’m meeting with Earth-Writer tonight, as National Novel Writing Month approaches, largely to provide feedback on her novel draft which I recently enjoyed. It features a delightful character without a reproductive arrangement of a standard formation. Perhaps hermaphroditic is the correct term? I have no idea if that term is currently considered respectful or not but you probably get the idea.
I found it very challenging to read the narrative concerning this character; let’s call him/her “Taylor” for now. Each time the narrative came back to Taylor from somewhere else I would trip all over the pronoun “they” or “their”, the same way I have tripped over it many times when talking to friends about common associates who have recently discovered a lack of gender-specific identity within their own psyche. I instinctively (selfishly) do not like this solution. To me it hampers the fluidity of communication. I keep thinking we are talking plural and must shake my head and realize again that we’re talking one person of unspecified gender.
I can see that we’re going to have a difficult time as a society coming to terms with these non-binary gender ideas when it comes to language.
There are some intelligent people out there with great respect for science and logic and who recognize that language is indeed a construct of science and logic who insist that a person with a penis who reports they “feel” like a girl is indeed still a boy regardless and should be labeled appropriately in terms of law and societal operation (such as which bathroom to use).
On the other hand there are places where non-binary is an official legal option with regards to gender.
The number of personal friends I have who have physically changed gender or are considering it or who have come out as having significant thoughts about it has gone from zero to five in the course of the last two or three years. The number of tertiary associates under these circumstances is probably about ten, I’m not bothering to count. Plus who knows how many are in that state but in the closet?
At a party recently, one of the hosts was in the state of thinking themself a they and many of the party guests showed a lot of outward signs that they were probably in the same camp or else were indeed fully post-operative trans-gendered - or else fitting some particular variant of the wide trans spectrum.
It was a very new experience for me to witness this and I am grateful for it. These folks (some of each cross-direction should that interest you) were obviously well-acquainted, perhaps via some official support community - and they were very gentle and loving toward one another. An outsider might even get the impression of a poly amorous subculture but I have no evidence of that, nor did I inquire. Though the trans-gender idea is instinctively a foreign one to me, I found myself disarmed by this group. I found them to be quite lovely and graceful people.
My heart totally goes out to anyone in such a circumstance. I would like them to feel comfortable and happy with whoever and whatever they are - or feel like they are. But dictating what pronouns other people use to describe them is not necessarily entirely wise in my opinion. Let me close here with a few suggestions:
1. We all would do well to try not to care and worry quite so much about gender identity. Everyone is unique and deciding what gender someone should be labeled does not automatically confer any facts about that person.
2. We all would do well to be less sensitive as to what label someone uses when referring to us. What matters about you is what you think of you; not anyone else. If you decide tomorrow you have become a “he” instead of a “she”, well fine. Someone calling you a “he” doesn’t make you one. It only betrays how they instinctively think of you. And frankly, everyone you have ever met (and I’m talking about all of us when I say “you”) has a different idea of who you are and those ideas will all be different, and different than your own idea, and different than the real authentic you.
3. We all would do well, I think, to remember that words have multiple meanings and that words are only signposts. It is not words that matter, it is intention that matters. “Woman” has always been meant to specify the female gender but “Man” was not originally intended to specify male gender. It was supposed to mean human. I think we would do well to try to allow such words as “man” and “he” and “him” to reclaim that unspecificity and let them all mean “person”
4. To those who propose the new pronoun “Ze” as a non-specific alternative to he and she, I urge you to keep in mind that the words he and she come from the mouth instinctively. Our language/communication programming does not include a pause for thought at such a juncture. Nobody will automatically absorb Ze into their lexicon instinctively, and so expecting people to use it in conversation - much like expecting people to suddenly reverse their he-she usage right after you come out of the closet as trans-gender-feeling, can amount to a bit of a witch hunt. You’ll discover that people have a firm instinctive preconception of your gender and when in conversation with another person, frankly, their idea of your gender is not necessarily less relevant than your own. I think it’s only realistic to be patient. As for the Ze idea, hey, we can go ahead and start using it but it will likely take root in writing well ahead of speech - if it takes root at all - for language is a process of group organics and cannot be intentionally regulated except in contract law! - and we’ll have to be okay with that. I doubt the word will ever find its way out of my mouth - and I can’t possibly apologize for that - but it might, if we start to put it in writing - become an instinctive reality a generation from now? I think that’s about the best you can hope for. And if you do think we should use the “Ze” word, the way to go about it is not through seeking consensus. The thing to do is just start using it! That’s how language evolves. People throw it up and it sticks or it doesn't.
5. With regards to the plural confusion which currently badgers me; the use of they, them and their: I suggest that such a tricky migration might be significantly smoothed if we take an extra step by habitually changing the plural use of those words to - I don’t know - “they all” or “them all” or something like that.
I hope I am not misconstrued. I care about your feelings and I would like to try to help you feel comfortable with your body and your role within society and (gratefully) within my life. But we have to keep it real. The evolution of language naturally seeks clarity and thus changes with the times. The evolution of language does not seek confusion.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The boy who could not feel

The following is a true story.

Once upon a time a man found himself consumed with the idea of finding real truth. The more he sought it the more he found all the many barriers to truth which together weaved an almost impenetrable blanket of illegitimacy over everything and everyone in his society including the man himself; at least the man he had been. The experience changed him magnificently. He shed years of untruth from his mind, became a person of much more humility and honesty and integrity and much less a man of ego. The horror which at first was born of the endeavor slowly changed to joy and peace and freedom as the man found new appreciations for the vital realities of logic, causality and context. He became very gentle and forgiving and full of love and pity.

When he eagerly went forth to share all this good news he discovered at once that people wanted nothing to do with it and did not trust him and so he learned to tread gently and do a lot of playing dumb for other people’s comfort.

He realized that he had tread into the realm of enlightenment but without a map to know just how far.

Then he met a boy who amazed him for the boy seemed to have incredible capacities for honesty, humility and intelligence and an instinctive mistrust for the ruling structures of society which the man knew very well to all be entirely corrupt.

The boy took a close interest in the man and began to ask questions about the deeper realities of life. The man respected the boy’s mind so much that he answered honestly, with no playing dumb in order to protect his new audience from the discomfort of challenged illusions the way he had to do with most society-imprisoned adults most of the time.

The man and boy quickly bonded as dual outsiders in a world they both felt alien to, or so the man perceived. The man was open about his journeys. The boy was eager to hear about the learning which had come out of them. They came together to talk on a regular basis; weekly for a long time and then at longer frequencies as the boy went to high school and then to college..

Their friendship seemed cosmic to the man; based on things beyond the mechanisms of society. Their friendship, the man perceived, was on a philosophic and spiritual plane. But the man came to love the boy like a son, while the boy felt more and more burdened by social anxiety and felt that somehow their friendship and their bond would never be understood by the peers which he struggled to relate to. Thus he tried to keep their friendship somewhat a secret which the man did not fully realize at the time, nor did he think that a good idea at all. He knew what dark hearts hid in the chests of normal people and the secret delight they would take imagining that something scandalous must be going on in any unusual relationship between an adult and youth.

He counseled the youth against secrecy but also did not worry about it much, for the youth would soon be an adult and surely their relationship would change and be more based on tangible collaboration in the realms of art and spirituality. They would inspire each other’s creative work and pursue enlightenment together, the man felt sure. And the man would finally teach him more of the wise understandings which he had been patient about; always letting the boy’s interests and circumstances and limitations dictate the approach of this learning.

He came to view the boy as his best friend, for it was only with the boy that he could be fully himself, not because he wanted to keep any secrets from anyone, but because the boy was the only human he respected quite enough to speak any hard truth whatsoever to; for the boy had such a powerful and open mind. One evening he asked the boy who his own best friends were and the boy named the man and one other friend from college.

The man knew that the boy had an extremely rare privilege with regards to their friendship. The boy had a friend that he could trust to no end, who would always respect what he had to say, never judge him, never think him weird or odd or anything like that (because the man had learned everything that the human creature is capable of and embraced the logic and causality that revealed that everything the human creature is capable of is normal). The boy had a friend who would always be honest with him,  always be supportive, and would always love him and never betray his confidence. This was a friend he had total freedom to say anything to.

A friend you can safely say ANYTHING to.

Who else could make such an honest claim about a friend? Think about it. Almost no one. Ever.

The man always wondered if the boy fully understood the rarity of his privilege. But as with most things the man was very patient. They talked earnestly together with no limits. They shared their fears and tears and “secrets” and deepest insights and deepest self-accusations and the man was always amazed at the boy’s growing intelligence.

The boy had a problem with empathy. That became apparent for many reasons but as always the man was patient and in no hurry to fully confront him about this (though the subject had been tentatively approached on occasion).

One manifestation was that the boy had a terrible habit of not returning people’s messages and though he admitted that he knew that it hurt people’s feelings, the man was pretty sure that the boy did not fully comprehend. The boy had once tried to explain what empathy was to the man and the boy got it all wrong. The man had felt sad for him at that moment and chose not to challenge him on it at that moment.

The boy’s habit of ignoring people grew worse with time and many friends gave up on messaging him at all. The man meanwhile was feeling hurt more and more often by this.

Over the years the boy’s explanation for this bad habit changed each time they talked about it. The man did not care to imagine whether the boy was trying to be honest or not. He loved the boy like family and chose to always trust him no matter what; for one of the beautiful aspects of love is the surrendering to the loved one the power to hurt you and choosing to trust that they won’t.

Finally the boy graduated from college and began to work regularly on his music and part time at a job and he was pursuing frequent experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs and was very excited about the realms of mental perception this seemed to be opening up for him. The man noticed that the boy’s mannerisms and personality seemed to be rapidly changing and he commented on this and the boy seemed to perhaps take this as an insult rather than simply concern.  

So with this new logistical freedom the boy and man planned a significant outing together. A significant exploration of the human mind. It was the boy's idea. The man was looking forward to it very much and very content that after about eight years their friendship seemed to be reaching that fully adult stage of collaboration, and then the man received a message from the boy which read:

I don’t want to continue this relationship not feeling the dynamic anymore, sorry

And now the man is confused and hurt and sad every day.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Good news for this blog...

... devastating news otherwise.

Well, I keep drifting away and back again to these few words above which I wrote at least an hour ago. Perhaps it’s still too soon to write about it. My mind has been somewhat tortured since September 26th.

Perhaps the single largest barrier to my blogging over the last six years has been a relationship which is dear to me and the privacy I have wished to afford that person, even though there is no fully legitimate reason for any such privacy. All secrecy is in one way or another, directly or indirectly, the product of illusions; in this case: sadly superficial and superstitious ones.

That relationship has been so fundamental to my daily life that it colors nearly all the things I might blog about and that person has (at least at one time) bean a reader of this blog. For reasons I will surely write about soon, when I can summon the emotional fortitude, I apparently no longer owe that person such confidence. So unless things change it will no longer fetter this blog, nor do I expect any future relationship to do so.

If I’m ever to make significant progress towards the life goals which I’ve allowed to linger too long, I must bring this blog to life and allow it to penetrate into the shadows of my living experience and that of significant associates. My life and my relationships must be treated, to some reasonable degree, as a public lab experiment. The people around me will have to understand that if they wish to closely associate with me, their avatars will likely appear in this space, and that is not negotiable.

I urge everyone to treat this space as an anonymous space.

I need a little more time.

See you soon.