Archive for February, 2013

Life of Pi: I’ll Have the Cake, Please

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2013 by willard43

So I watched Life of Pi last night and while I really enjoyed the look and the fable vibe, the end kinda pissed me off. SPOILERS!!!!

The whole thing is this gimmicky question; what type of person are you? One of faith or one of rationality? The problem is that the deck is obviously stacked toward the faithful. I mean who wants to be the type of person that chooses the story rife with the worst of humanity, including cannibalism (which really isn’t so bad if they’re dead and it’s to survive in my book)? So, being an atheist, I’m stuck with the cannibal cook story where the guy’s mother is killed and eaten…fuck that, right!?

On top of that, the whole movie revolves around setting up the tiger fable with only seconds devoted to the truth. The truth, I guess, is ugly and savage and the fable is beautiful and humane, huh? By choosing the rational side you are at odds with the whole movie/ story; you are a bad audience member!

Well then, Mr. Martel and Mr. Lee, if my choices are tiger pie or cannibal pie, I’ll have the cake, please.

Upon further reflection: OK, now after stewing on this for another day, I’m looking at possibly uglier reasons for the whole fable. Guilt, being the number one on my list. But first, I am a truth seeker. While I love a good story and am inspired by people who have survived incredible odds, I don’t like being bullshitted. And I get the feeling that is what’s going on here, but it’s being smothered by this philosophical question of faith.

The truth is probably like this; the kid is thrust into this incredible and disastrous situation with his mother and has to watch as the evil cook kills the sailor and then his mother and eats them. Now, either he stood and watched in misery, (and hey, he’s a teenager in a fucked up situation so there’s some sympathy), or he ate to survive and the fable is really about him dealing with that guilt.

What pisses me off is that we’re trying to sugarcoat it with this bullshit question of faith. The cutesy story with the tiger is predicated on a lie. Just like religion. Forget faith for a minute, and let’s just be “rational.” Even if there is a god, the bible is full of contradictions. Now this could be blamed on the people who wrote it, but if it were inspired by god or created through humanity by god, it should be “gospel,” no? However, most people of faith do not believe every word in the bible. They pick and choose what they want to believe and what rules they want to follow, (case in point; the movement against Same Sex Marriage constantly quotes Leviticus to suit their cause, but conveniently forget to include all the other crazy rules in that book). Much like this story. Sure, you get to choose what you want to believe, but boy who really wants to choose door number 2?

For me, however, door number 2, while scary, was still vastly more liberating than when I initially chose door number 1. I don’t remember when I decided there was a god, but I sure as shit remember the epiphany…no the “revelation,” (tee hee, sorry)…when I threw off that yoke.

 

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Of Want and Need

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2013 by willard43

Love’s a fickle friend indeed,
When less of want and more of need,
Wild tangents does it often heed,
If only from that broken seed.

Love from wanting’s much more fine,
And from that wanting both can dine,
On each other’s hearts divine,
And full at last both lovers shine.

While need burns Love’s at “both ends bright,”
And strains Love’s joy with all its might,
As the moon drains days to ebon night,
It leaves Love pale as winter’s light.

I want someone but do not need,
And this is not a hollow creed,
As wanting will most likely feed,
Love of a tempered, stronger breed.

Aimee Mann on Marc Maron WTF

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21, 2013 by willard43

Listened to WTF today where Marc interviewed Aimee Mann (you know, pretty, thin, voice carries), and was not necessarily surprised by her charm and intellect, but by some of her background. I did not know, for example, that when she was 3 her mother left her father to run off to Europe with a married man and his kids. She lived with them for 9 months but eventually ended up back with her dad. She discusses some very personal impacts that had on her life and while interesting on its own, it made me think of my kids and myself.

My ex ran off and left me with three kids who were 9, 5 and 4 at the time, but she did take the 4 year old for few months. He’s had the most issues that I can tell to date and they are 14, 11 and 10 now. I’ve had them on my own for six years and they seem like pretty well-adjusted kids. I can only imagine what kind of hell they would have gone through if they’d ended up with her, being a miserable person herself. I remember the night she left with my youngest very well. She said she was just going up to her now husband’s house to decompress after she dropped the bomb on me that she didn’t want to be married anymore after ten years (13 together). I almost walked through the cuckhold door on that one, but luckily the kids saved me. They thought they were all going with her, but my two oldest broke into tears and begged not to go. My youngest was too young to know the difference, but he hated being without them. That memory of them sitting on the couch in tears and me crawling through the mist of my own misery to hear them is very vivid now, and this interview brought all that back.

Additionally, it brought back some issues I’ve always had with my real dad dying when I was 2. In a way, I was also abandoned by him, though dying is a pretty good reason compared to simple selfishness. He has always been martyred to me and held in a heroic light, which I’m sure he would not want, according to my mom. My two step-dads are great guys who did the best they could, but they could never compete with that image of my dead dad.

The one thing that bothered me about both Marc and Aimee is that they had the attitude of just “let it go” with regard to that shit, and yet they both blame their issues on those events. Neither have kids themselves, and I keep going back to this theory that having them is a developmental stage in adulthood, and those that don’t, don’t ever resolve those issues with their parents; cases in point. And I’m not ready to give up blaming my ex for walking out. This idea that Aimee brought up about “hey, life is short” is bullshit. It’s YOLO and it’s a crap philosophy. Sure, life is short and you need to do what’s right for you, but, in my opinion, not at the expense of others. I’m not saying my ex should have stayed, I’m saying she should have never married or had kids. Once you do, you have a responsibility. People who don’t have or never have kids simply don’t get that.

Great! Now I Want a Gun!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2013 by willard43

I don’t own a gun. I have nothing against them, and have had the chance to fire them on rare occasions and have greatly enjoyed the experience. It’s like the idea of defusing a bomb that I saw in some cheezy movie, where the bomb-maker (maybe the movie with Tommy Lee Jones as the Irish bomb maker?), poses the theory that the bomb is the potential of this great release of energy and the person who diffuses it is cheating the world out of that release of energy. You could even take that theory further and say that the reason the person made the bomb in the first place, is the result of the iniquities of the world and is necessary to release that negative energy, blah blah blah…bullshit, bullshit, bullshit…I’m off on a tangent again.

Here’s a better quote that hits closer to the center mass of the target sheet; “I’d rather have a gun and not need it, than need one and not have it.” I’m no crazy conspiracy theorist, and I don’t think the gov’ment is out to “pry my gun from my cold dead hand,” but there is something to be said for being prepared. I’m sure every person on the side of the gun issue, and especially in the wake of the Newtown Shooting incident, has pondered where they stand. On the far left, we ask to basically get rid of all guns or at least make it so difficult to get one, that you discourage the casual enthusiast. On the other end of the spectrum, everyone should have a fucking arsenal in their basement for when Obama comes to make us gay marry and sign up for the Death Panel with his Rasta Army. 

Unfortunately, I fall into the greater majority in between those two absolutes. I’m definitely left of center, pro-choice, pro-legalization and fiscally conservative (let’s cut Congress’ pay, the defense budget, and pump that money into Education and the Infrastructure and get off the gas), but I want a gun. Why? Because at the end of the day, when I lay my head down to rest in my nice comfy bed, I think, “what would you do if someone broke into your house right now, where your children sleep, and they had a gun?” What would I do? I’d like to think I would fight the good fight and be able to disarm them and save the day; be the hero, but I think I would probably end up dead at worst, or robbed and sobbing to a police officer and feeling far less of the man and veteran I am. So I now want a gun to defend my home and children just in case, and will die happy if the thing is never fired at anything other than a paper target.

Now, I don’t want any assault weapons or fancy-schmancy tech 9 with the night vision goggles, just a pump shot gun or an automatic pistol with enough rounds and training to dissuade an intruder from doing anything stupid. And yes, I totally get it that you are far more likely to get shot accidentally in your own home by a family member than you would be by the boogeyman intruder I’m defending myself from, but I don’t care. I still have to think that I’d be safer having one and not needing it than not having and needing one.

TV Crack: Downton Abbey

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2013 by willard43

You’re in one of two camps on Downton Abbey (DA), the relatively new serial on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater; don’t know what it is or are completely addicted. I’m in the latter and never could have guesses I would be. For the uninitiated, DA chronicles the life and times of Lord and Lady Grantham in turn of the century (well, 1912-1920s so far) England. Lord Grantham is pretty much a conservative Lord, desperately hanging on to that which has allowed the aristocracy of a dwindling British Empire; tradition. And doing so in the face of a rapidly changing England. He and his family live in Downton Abbey; a regal castle for all intents and purposes, staffed by butlers, footmen, maids…the lot. It is reminiscent of the 1970’s program Upstairs/Downstairs, but with a modern coat of paint and cinematography. The series uses historical context to impact the lives of all if the abbey’s denizens very effectively.

But why am I, a middle-aged, American, straight guy so addicted? Sure, I, like many of my ilk, are super fans of History in general, and miss the days when the History Channel actually showed some History (compared to the vile crap they show now; Pawn Stars I’m looking at you and sneering). However, the show is melodramatic at its best, and down write sudsy at its worst. And those are the only bad points. The good points are many; competent acting, beautiful cinematography, elegant costumes, and most importantly, the ever-present rules of class. I think it is this above all else that attracts me to the show; the constant juxtaposition of the upper and lower or servant classes and the constant straining and or blurring of those lines. Every character in the show is constantly at war with tradition and progress at the same time. The traditions of dress and etiquette for the upper class residents, the Crawley and Grantham families, are the most fascinating and comforting for me, and yet they are so very foreign.

A good example of how DA plays on this is in the introduction of Matthew Crawley, the heir-apparent to DA, who was raised in a Middle-class world as an attorney, but finds himself struggling with the idea of a valet. For someone like me, the idea of making someone else clean up my mess or dress me is terrifying. Sure, I like to think it’s because I am beyond the idea of class, being a modern 21st-century man, but I think it’s more because of the intrusive nature of having someone be that closely involved in every aspect of your life. On the other side of it is poor Mr. Mosley, who was born and raised to be a servant. He does not take Matthew Crawley’s resistance to his services as a valet as a sign of a modern man who does not distinguish between himself and Mr. Mosley, but rather that he and his profession are reduced to the unnecessary. Instead of being thankful, as Matthew would guess, Mr. Mosley is hurt and dejected until he finally relents. Then the two fall into unison like the gears of a clockworks and all is right and well with the world. 

This makes me question myself the most, because I feel comforted and almost touched by the interaction between the two, but in reality it is so so wrong and goes against everything I believe as an American. I would never want a valet, or so I tell myself. I would feel guilty every time I saw a maid come into my room and light the fire or make the bed. Of course this is because I was brought up to fend for myself and do my own dirty work, but could I become very used to it and how quickly? Once I were part of that world, and considered an aristocrat, by whatever fantastical means that would occur, would I not relinquish those middle-class values using the excuse that the poor maid and valet need a job too?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not letting that little dilemma ruin the show and can’t wait til next Sunday when it comes on again. And I usually attribute this kind of passion for a TV show with the fact that I usually find out later that the show was worth watching, as is the case here. I didn’t start watching until last week and have since caught up, watching two seasons, three episodes at a time, in order to catch up with the current season. I  love that as you get to see the character arc at close range rather than spread out over the tedious week of waiting. I was dumb enough, (or lucky enough?) to miss The Wire, and was able to binge watch that through all five seasons; a glorious immersion into that world, which I value more than actually watching a current season.

Hell, at this point I’m seriously considering shutting off my cable in favor of waiting for the seasons of my favorite shows to end so I can watch the entire season in succession; I get that much joy out of that binge watching. And I’m not the only one, as Portlandia deftly made fun of in the case of Battlestar Gallactica in an episode where Fred and Carrie went so far as to track down the writers of the show (albeit they did not find the actual writer) and force him to write new episodes to feed their addiction. And wouldn’t that be a different world for me? I could free up my days and concentrate on important things like working out, spending time with family, pursuing an advanced degree, or working on that pesky Climate Change problem, sacrificing only a weekend or so to binge watch an entire season of Dexter in a junk food fueled, be-robed glory of decadence on my couch. If I switched to binge-watching in favor of crowding my week with skimpy one-hour doses of my favorite shows, I would, in the words of The Step Brothers, “have so much more room for activities.”

So thank you Downton Abbey. I think you’ve changed my life and that is just sad.