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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Sweet Mystery of Life

Where have you been all my of life?  I am so in love with these open, drape-y sweater thingys.  I can’t stop buying them.

open front

I think I have nearly a dozen of them by now.  Some that are short and some that are long.  Some that are thin and some more heavyweight.  They work over jeans, leggings and skirts.  Please never go out of style!

I don’t really have much to say today, but I didn’t want you to forget about me.

smiley face

On The Nose

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I watched a movie last night that has not been released so I don’t wish to name it or give any details.  This is not a review of that film.  This is an examination of a comment someone made who watched it with me.  One of his comments about the film was that it was too “on the nose.”  He saw this as a flaw or a weakness.

Oddly enough, while I can agree completely with that statement, I didn’t see it as a flaw or a detraction to my enjoyment.  There are several terms like this that get thrown around by film critics that to me seem really neutral and merely explanatory rather than harsh criticism.  Another one would be calling a film sentimental or schmaltzy.  I thought this film was both of those as well.  And I balled like a baby.

There’s nothing new under the sun… some ancient Greek philosopher once quipped.  Imagine how little newness there is 2000 years later.  As a student and connoisseur of storytelling, I can say that I’m rarely surprised any longer.  This has nothing to do with a lack of creativity and just an acknowledgement that I’ve almost seen it all.  That is a blessing and a curse that comes with age.

If you’re paying attention, a story (be it a film, a play or a book) discretely makes its audience a promise somewhere early on that it must then pay off or deliver by its end.  How it does this is where the creativity and ingenuity comes into play, but it will still do it in one of several expected ways.

Story is character and vice versa.  I always harken back to the brilliant words of my college film professor, “A film is just a person with a problem.”  The meat of the story is how that person solves his/her problem (or fails to).  When the problem is solved, the story is over.

I think a film can be successful and fail to entertain.  I think a film can fail miserably and be entirely entertaining.  When a film achieves both, that’s when you generally have a hit on your hands.

Many people love the comfort of things working out the way they anticipate.  That explains why people will eat at a McDonald’s when they visit foreign countries — the comfort of know what you’re going to get.  Others love to be surprised and shocked.  They like to be kept guessing the whole way through.  I enjoy both but as I noted above, I need the story to hint at where it is going so I know what ride I’m on.  I’m willing to go with you as long as I have some idea where we’re going.

A ghastly good time.

A ghastly good time.

One film I loved that did a 180 degree flip was Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners.  It started off as a comedy with Michael J. Fox playing a man who can communicate with the dead and he uses this ability to con people.  The flip comes when he finds the dead are not so nice and the film rolls into a horror story for its second half.  It felt like when it flipped from light to dark, I was cued in and I enjoyed the ride.

One film that failed this flip (to me, at least) was Guarding Tess with Nicolas Cage and Shirley Maclaine.  Cage plays a secret service agent tasked with guarding an ex-first lady.  It’s kind of played for laughs as Ms. Maclaine is a curmudgeon that gives Cage grief at every turn.  The midpoint complication is she is kidnapped and buried alive and Cage has to find her before she dies.  What!?!?!  I didn’t see that one coming in any direction.  It was like the movie had given me a punch to the solar plexus.  I still hate this movie.

I'd rather be watching Raising Arizona.

I’d rather be watching Raising Arizona.

I don’t begrudge anyone who enjoys movies I don’t like.  And I only secretly think they’re idiots for disliking the ones I love.  The more I see, the more I realize how incredibly subjective story is.  Rare is the film that lands the consensus of being universally loved or hated.  Personally, I think it’s because some people just enjoy being contrary to popular opinion.  There are people who hate sunny days.  Nutcases… unless you’re allergic to the sun, I guess.

In someone’s world, this is the best thing ever!

 

What’s in it for me?

I am a kind and generous person.  I am not, however, altruistic in any way.

“Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.” – Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love

Another term for altruism is selflessness, which is something you and I can never be.  No matter where you go, there you are.  You are in everything you do.

When I help others, it’s for purely selfish reasons.  I prefer to live in a world where people help out others when they are able to do so.  We’re all in this together.  We rise and fall together.  United we stand, divided we fall.  And so forth.

I’m also paying it forward a bit.  I know that I didn’t get where I am purely on my own steam.  I didn’t “build it”.  And it’s not like I’m being generous so I get something from that specific person in return.  It’s more like a karmic savings account, so to speak.  The spiritual notion of like attracts like.

When presented with something I’d rather not do, I find that it is far less selfish to just say no.  What’s so benevolent about doing something out of a concern for how you look?  If my immediate reaction to something isn’t, “Yes” or “Sure” then my next thought is “What’s in it for me if I do this?” and “Do I really want to do this?”  If I can’t find something in it for me, even a small feeling of satisfaction, then I’m not the one who is meant to do that.

This has taken me a long time to get.  I spent years begrudgingly performing tasks out of some fear of looking like a jerk or even a misguided sense that I had to be a “good” person.  Once you stop giving any fucks, it’s hard to make yourself do things that you really don’t want to any longer.

count-zero-fucks-given

If I get several invitations or requests at the same time, I am only one person and I’m going to do the one I want to do.  If I have already committed to something and another, better something comes along, I rarely change my plans.  I feel that once I commit to something, that’s what I have to do because I said I would do it.

Best recent example is my friends asked me to babysit their child on the Saturday night before Halloween.  I had no plans so I said yes.  As the day approached, I received several party invitations.  I showed up to babysit as planned.  That how I dooz it.

how I roll

What was in it for me?  I keep my promises for me.  The other person just benefits from it.  It actually makes life a whole lot easier.  If I do what I said I would do when I said I would do it, or own up to it when that no longer becomes possible, then I have a lot less mess to clean up later.  Reminds me of something I once heard that went like, it’s better to tell the truth because you don’t have to remember anything.  The truth is just there in your head and you simply recall it.  You’ve got to remember your lies in order to not get caught in them.

I am a kind and generous person because I want to be.  Not because the world expects it or demands it of me.  And it’s all about me, after all.

337_Loving_for_Keeps_cartoon-center-of-my-universe

I Likes to Bake

I’m in the process of recovering from a very fun Halloween night so I can’t make deep thoughts in my aching brain pan.  So I will just admit to my absolute love of baking.  I don’t even care if I eat my creations some of the time.  I just love that sense of accomplishment when I get it right.

 

Hahahahahaha!

Hahahahahaha!

In fact, I love to do all kinds of things that require the ability to follow directions.  I can sew and build things with the aid of a pattern or a kit.  People know that I love to put together shelves so they are more than happy to let me.

I also love to wrap presents.  I have no idea where I’m going with this but these aren’t things that most people tend to profess a deep and abiding joy in performing.  Even when I get frustrated by complicated stitches or strange shapes to get the paper around, that feeling when I’m complete is sublime.

Here are a few of my tasty masterpieces.

An apple gallette.  Not bad.

An apple gallette. Not bad.

Caramel apple cupcakes.  So cute.

Caramel apple cupcakes. So cute.

Individual pineapple upside down cakes -- shaped like pineapples.  Yeah, nailed it.

Individual pineapple upside down cakes — shaped like pineapples. Yeah, nailed it.