Monthly Archives: July 2014

Another reason?

We humans have a fondness for marking milestones with some sort of self-assessment. New Year resolutions. Thanksgiving thankful toasts. Anniversary memories. And birthday introspections. But those often only really matter at artificial milestones: 16, 18, 21, 25, 30, and the fuzzy “getting older” birthdays. That’s where I’m at this week.

Last week, my lovely wife started watching “So You Think You Can Dance” on Hulu. I don’t remember what snarky thing I said out loud, but my non-blushing bride of 28 plus years paused the show, turned to me, made sure she had my attention, and said, “You’re like this with movies and music…”, and she then she very directly and in a low register, intensely continued, “…I don’t want another reason to dislike you.” I was (mostly) quiet after that.

Now, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t really dislike me…most of the time. But she’s right about the movies. And sometimes the music.

I don’t actively seek out the problems in most movies – they are just so obvious that I can’t not see them. Apart from the usual plot, dialogue, physics and flow issues, the suspension of reality bugs me. I don’t mean shoot outs with endless clips. I mean escape hatches in elevators (ever see one?), or 3-D wire-frame renderings for remote apartment buildings called up in an instant (Enemy of the State, in case you were wondering).

Andrea’s tried to convince me over the years that directors really do have more in mind than filming and editing a story, because I normally only see use of red in this or that scene as either something that just happened or as a distraction. In 2004, we had a disagreement over the movie Closer. She asked me, “Didn’t you see that the director was trying to…?” …and I don’t remember what it was that Mike Nichols was trying to do, but when the DVD came out, I fast forwarded to the point in question with the commentary on. It was uncannily almost word for word, “What I was trying to do here was…”  Even when something is explained explicitly to me, I don’t always see it.

She came home one night a few months ago from an after-Moms’ Night Out movie and said we needed to watch About Time. She told me, “It’s fun. And the message is so obvious, even you’ll get it.” I apparently need simple metaphors, or none at all. And the movie was fun.

Anyway, I no longer question her insight. Well, that’s not quite true. I sometimes do, but it takes me less time than it used to come around. With comedies being the general exception, our agreements on movies tend to be me thinking they were not that good and her agreeing that I’m wrong.

She agrees that I’m wrong on television shows, too. Sometimes, that comes as a complete surprise to me. I genuinely don’t know that I’m wrong! For instance, I thought the Lost finale was the pinnacle of “are you kidding me???” Little did I know, I was quite mistaken in my assessment. That I was not the only one didn’t make a difference, and this explanation didn’t help (Spoiler alert! “…metaphorically, it was about people who were lost and searching for meaning and purpose in their lives.”)

I admit I have been known to be a braying ass with respect to music. And also in my position on the writing quality of books like 50 Shades of Gray. And…um, anime. Oh…and uh… Texas weather.

These are things to work on. I think I’ve already come a long way on the music – diverse family interests and DJing the teen dances helps. The others will take a lot of birthday introspections.

I know this may all seem unbalanced…Jim=curmudgeon=poor Andrea (or hipster…I really don’t fit any of those definitions), and I make it sound like she’s picking on me, but she’s not. Andrea and I complement each other. She fills in the feeling gaps I either inherently don’t get or didn’t learn. I rarely see “meanings” behind movies, so she explains them. I can count on two hands the number of books (fiction) that have engaged an emotion, and if we happen to read the same books and discuss them, she might enlighten me. And I appreciate it very much.

Now, “reality” shows? Yeah…I’ll just leave that one alone. She’s right…she really doesn’t need another reason.


Eye of Newt, …

…and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

In 1981, I took a political science class and the professor said that the Presidency had an aura about it. Regardless of what people thought of the person, when he walked in the room, there was respect. Or, in the case of FDR, reporters and bystanders suddenly became interested in their fingernails when Roosevelt had to be lifted out of his car.

I expect that professor, if still teaching, no longer feels there is a respect for the office. That was completely abandoned when President Obama took office thanks in a large part to the entertainment channel that is Fox”News” and the rest of the wrong-wing media. Continue reading

On nationalism

{Warning: This is a little more hard-hitting than my other posts in this month-long blog binge.}

Robert Kennedy, in a March 18th, 1968 speech at the University of Kansas, said

Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.  It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.  It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.  Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.  And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Little has improved since then. Except the GNP ($17 trillion as of Q4 2013). But it still factors in all those bad things he called out. Continue reading

Common courtesy…

…is dying in a country that is divided by partisan lunacy. I’ve said many times that I do not think I’ll see legitimate consensus in Congress in my lifetime and every day the Party of “NO” proves me right.  Congress was built on compromise and this one is at a nadir because they’ve all forgotten that.

I miss living on a military base. Family moves in next door…hey! new friends! Civilian world? Not the same. People don’t talk to each other. It’s quite sad. Now lest I’m misunderstood, we have wonderful neighbors immediately around us, because we talk. Well, someone outside the ring doesn’t… Continue reading