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Archive for the ‘Life in general’ Category

Jennifer left this morning for her month of research in Boston.  I’ll visit for almost a week in the middle of August, thanks to the miracle of flight, but the practical upshot of the whole thing is that I’m suddenly going to be inundated with free time for the next couple weeks.  So the blog should become a rather heavily populated area for a while.

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Something I never got a chance to mention – on my birthday, one of the things that we did was go to the High Museum and look at paintings and such.  As is usually the case with art museums, it was decidedly hit or miss.  A lot of things in there just didn’t strike my fancy.  Also as per usual, the things that I found the most mind-blowing were the abstract splatter jobs…  Funny thing about abstract art is that it walks such a tightrope.  The fact that these paintings aren’t really pictures of anything means that if they aren’t really powerful, then they are absolutely terrible.  This is probably the reason why abstraction gets so much shit – there’s an awful lot of crappy splatter paintings out there.  The evidence is right there on the wall in the High; one perfectly mundane Mark Rothko (from his ‘windowpane’ era – the very model of an art sequence that, when it’s not really good, is really bad) sits right next to an absolutely brilliant piece from his earlier ‘mythology’ period.

I wanted to find some pictures of these things to post on the blog, even though paintings such as these only really work full scale.  However, I could only find one – Adolph Gottlieb’s “Duet” from 1962.  (Gottlieb is another artist who also had a really terrible painting on display.)

Gottlieb - Duet - 1962

Imagine that five feet wide…

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Just finished watching a strange mockumentary called “Brothers of the Head.”  It was the first fiction film from Terry Gilliam documenters Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe.  Scripted by Tony Grisoni (another name familiar from Gilliam documentaries).

I’m not sure how I feel about it.

For starters, one has to get past the fact that it is not a comedy in the slightest, despite the fact that it is a mock-rockumentary about conjoined twin rock stars.  This film has virtually nothing to do with humor.

It also, unfortunately, has a great deal of difficulty sustaining one’s interest.  This is a problem endemic to mockumentaries – the biggest reason why realism is interesting is that it’s real.  When one knows that what is on the screen is scripted, documentary style can become tedious and boring really quickly.

However, I really want to like it, and that’s where the problem is.  I can’t think of a single thing that it doesn’t do brilliantly.  The concept is a bizarre mash-up of “Freaks,” teen-angst drama, and the Sex Pistols, filmed with more than a few direct nods to Orson Welles, and a brilliant closing image taken directly (and yet somehow made the more profound for the theft) from Ingmar Bergman’s persona — and, in case the wording there wasn’t clear, I intend to sound positive in saying all those things.  This is not rip-off; this is scholarly citation.  The directorial execution here is quite brilliant.

The acting is also top notch.  Combine the completely believable performances from everyone in the cast with music that is actually a very close approximation of all the things that made the Sex Pistols so engrossing, and you are left with a film that could easily be mistaken for real if one didn’t know better.

Even bad parts of the films can be explained away as intentional elements in the artistry.  For example, the song lyrics, though they occasionally stumble into trite teen-angst, or repetitions of slightly silly refrains (i.e. “we got Nelson’s blood in our veins), can be explained away; either that’s how angsty teen boys sound when they write songs, so why should it be more polished than that, or that’s how the Sex Pistols sounded, and further polish would’ve deflated their sense of ‘life being strangled’ urgency.  Another example, the rather garishly over-the-top choice of actual ‘freaks’ to represent the ‘side show’ that is rock-stardom is perfectly fine, because the fact that the comparison between self-imposed freakery through stardom and biological freakery is silly is actually a vital part of the power of the film – it is the very silliness of the concept that keeps the pathos from being overwhelming.

There’s truly very little here to criticize.

And yet, somehow it was just a difficult film to like.

If anyone else gets a chance to see it, I’d like to hear other reactions.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had quite such an aversion to a film that I really have trouble criticizing.

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Oh, and someone is filming something up the street – film or television episode or something.  They had commandeered a house for nearly a week.  Now they’re shooting in an abandoned gas station redressed as a bar called “Beer Today Gone Tomorrow” (yes, it’s a terrible joke…hopefully the filmmakers know that).

I don’t really know anything about what’s going on, but it appears to have a budget.  And, if my landlord’s information is correct, Luke Perry is involved.

I’m sure you’re all very concerned, so I’ll let you know if I find out anything else.

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1. Saw my first major league baseball game on Friday night.  The Braves crushed the Pirates.  Brian McCann hit two home runs (though I didn’t see the first one because we were ten minutes late) and Andruw Jones hit one.  Kind of a boring game actually, since it was a blowout, but a game is a game.

2. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” at least feels like a movie, unlike the last one which felt like all the important stuff was left on the cutting room floor.  It still didn’t do much for me – most Harry Potter films don’t – but if you’re a fan then you ought not be disappointed.  One criticism, though: I have always found it very troubling when films create characters who are villainous not only because they insufferably refuse to see the truth but also because they are actually, deep down, fascist people.  It seems to me that most of the time we are unwilling to separate, in our entertainment, characters who hold different / strongly opposing beliefs from characters who enjoy causing pain.  I find this a disturbingly ‘black vs white’ thing to include in a story that is aimed at children.  Even though the heart of the message is in the right place – i.e. that censorship only makes rebellion more likely.

3. For those who enjoy television and either don’t want a shelf full of dvds or aren’t able to purchase a series that they love due to unavailability (like “Strange Luck,” “Logan’s Run,” or “Blake’s 7”), I was just introduced to a great website today.  www.tv-links.co.uk.  It’s a site which collects links to full episodes of shows that stream online.  Including all episodes of Red Dwarf and Fawlty Towers.  Granted it’s largely just YouTube quality videos, but it’s nice to have a repository.  Just FYI.

4.  Research is consuming vast amounts of time right now.  Not much is changing in the Better Films Committee research other than minor tweaking to the knowledge.  I’m still waiting for another lightning bolt there.  Have also made some minor strides in the Edgerly research as well.  But nothing of enough importance or entertainment value to bother mentioning.

5.  One of the Edgerly books I purchased online recently – “Child Life” – included, as a bonus, an original Christmas card from 1897, at which time the Ralston Health Club apparently sent the book (to “Miss Emma F. Ginste”) free of charge.  A reproduction of the card is below.  I like ephemera.

Ralston Christmas Card - 1897

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Not much in the way of blogging lately.  I’ve been strangely busy since the move into the new place.  I seem to always be either going to work, or shopping for necessities, or doing research, or going to a fourth of July thing, or playing unbelievably strenuous games of badminton all the time.

Oh well.

Nothing much to report on lately.

– the new place is perfectly fine.  It’s taking some time to get into a comfortable routine there – probably because of all the busy-ness – but it’s fine as a home.

– Big city fireworks displays are always nice.  Though Decatur put their’s in a pretty stupid spot – between two tall buildings so that it was only half visible to about a quarter of the people in attendance.  But it’s nice to see lots of explosions.  One question though…why do people always bring babies to those things.  They ALWAYS cry through the whole thing; everyone knows that.

– The Home Run Derby last night was pretty lame.  The only one who was really ‘on’ was Matt Holliday.  Albert Pujols had some flashes of brilliance.  And Alex Rios had a good round.  But it was pretty poor.

– Speaking of Home Run Derbies.  The first of a planned three disc series of dvds containing the old ’50s/60’s TV series “Home Run Derby” was just released on the tenth.  I loved that show.  It was all that the modern Home Run Derby should be – low key fun that focuses on the players swinging the bats not the announcers talking about their random nonsense.  Ten bucks at DeepDiscount.com.  If anyone wants to buy that for me as a birthday gift, I wouldn’t mind.

– Still haven’t watched the final episode of Dr. Who series three.  Shows just how lame the season has been that I’m perfectly content to be busy right now and not watch it.  Although the season enders are usually pretty good.

– Some recent film viewing and uber-quick reviews.  “Knocked Up” = More dramady than “40 Year Old Virgin,” but Judd Apatow is still an excellent writer/director; A-.  “Tol’able David” = a surprisingly watchable silent film about a boy whose brother, father, and dog all die for no good reason, prompting him to eventually (‘morally’) get revenge; very weird moral standpoint; B.  “O Brother Where Art Thou” = strangely, I’d never seen this before; George Clooney does a great job; fun; “we’re in a tight spot”; A.

– The first straight to DVD release from The Film Crew (MST3K 2.0, pretty much) was a bit disappointing.  Nicely terrible film called “Hollywood After Dark,” in which unnecessary stripping scenes go on for an unnecessarily long time.  And some of the riffs were excellent.  But the lack of a silhouette is disheartening, and overall the riffing seemed a bit out of practice.  Good, but not great.

– One-on-one, high-speed badminton on a tennis court is really difficult.

Other things are going on, but I think I’ll stop here for now.

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So the recent problem, alluded to in the last post, has been the living situation.  I had my doubts about moving in with Kristopher from the time it was first suggested, but I allowed myself to be talked into it.  This turned out to be a bad idea.

Spoken completely without any sense of judgment, Kristopher is a boisterous, hard-drinking, life-of-the-party, man’s man.  In most senses, anyway.  Me being me, I just can’t live in a place where I’m never quite sure when the next 96 hour drinking binge is going to be, or when I’m going to be roused from sleep (intentionally or otherwise) in the wee hours of the morning by drunk people, or whether or not there’s going to be nine total strangers there when I arrive home from work desiring nothing but solitude, or if I’m going to be able to seclude myself at all when I feel the need to wind down.  Extroverts and introverts can’t live together when the extrovert owns the house and (justifiably) has the final word on everything.

There’s something about the overly-kind ‘doormat’ type (which I certainly lean towards in most situations) that people who aren’t like that tend to either not understand or simply ignore.  It’s not that we can’t defend ourselves against the rest of the world and “need to learn to say no” or any of the other things that people tend to say about us.  On the contrary, I can say “no” just fine.  But it’s an act.  I have a ‘public persona’ and a ‘private persona’; that’s how I deal with being generally reserved and wanting to please everyone all the time in a world that is most rewarding to predators.

However, in a situation such as this house, I never get to switch over to my private persona.  I’m constantly having to keep my guard up to tell someone (possibly someone drunk) “no,” or to interact with strangers.  I never get a chance to wind down.  I never even get a chance to close the door (due to the wonderful stroke of luck that the air conditioning in the room ceases to function properly without circulation with the hallway).  The cumulative effect of which is like being at work 24 hours per day.

People need solitude sometimes.  Some more than others.  And there are circumstances under which it’s just not possible.  I hadn’t had a proper moment’s peace in quite some time…

So I went looking for a diferent place and found one today.  I’ll be staying in a older lady’s attic.  Which suits my personality pretty well, some might say.  Grandma’s attic…that’s the place for me.

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Random nonsense…

1. Been poster shopping on ebay for the walls of my new room.  Haven’t made any final decisions yet, but browsing randomly through old movie posters sure is a rapid reminder or how many crappy, completely forgotten films have been released up to this point in history.

2. Most of the apartment is set up now.  I need an end table with a junk drawer, but otherwise things are largely ready to roll.

3. The flight to California leaves in a couple days.  I’m looking forward to the official start of vacationizing.

4. I’m getting a little uncomfortable with the search engine access to this blog.  I think I’ll privatize it again.

5. Nothing else to say.  Huzzah.

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Moves

Well, everything is out of the overpriced room at Clairmont.  And everything is in (in boxes) at the new room.

May be a while before everything is functional, seeing as how I’ll spend the bulk of the next three weeks out of town.  But at least the moving part is finished.

That part is always horrible…

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It’s been a long couple of weeks.

Many going away ‘parties.’  (Why do people always want to go out to a bar or restaurant on such occasions?  The motivation eludes me.  I’d rather spend the money on actual fun.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been a fan of small talk or communicating solely for the sake of communication…)

Lots of time spent packing up boxes.

Just lots of time being taken up in which the practical choosing of ‘what to do’ is effectively out of my hands.

So it’s been a long slow burn of no-solitude-irritation for a couple of weeks, with the near complete loss of solitude on the horizon (as I’m moving into a new room with three other roommates).  So I had an inexplicable-rage day a couple days ago.  Nothing major – just in a foul mood all day.  Eventually worked my way through that.  Now I’m just tired.

Just basically sitting here waiting for my many travels to kick in…  Unfortunately there’s still a week to wait on that.

But I got a free bookshelf today, saving myself about $50.  (Thank you, moving students and overflowing trash regions.)  Now if only someone would dispose of a queen size bed (or a futon) by accidentally dropping through my new bedroom window…

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PS.  I’m on the fence over the value of having this be a totally public blog.  I just recently readmitted it into search engines a few days ago, and I’m not completely comfortable with the idea.  However, it is kind of fun to see the bizarro nonsense that people type into search engines, leading them to this site.  Most of them involve Mars.  “Joke things on Mars,” or “sports played on the planet Mars.”  I get a lot of actual science questions.

Though yesterday, someone did search for “Imperial stove polish.”  I find that quite amusing.

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