25 February 2011

Stop trying to shock me

I've never appreciated the media's attempts to shock me into liking things. I find the constant bombardment of extreme scenarios annoying, and I tend to avoid ostentatious ceremonies and performances (see award shows). Also, I find horror films laughable, Reality TV makes me want to shrug my shoulders and say "eh," and commercials warning of impending heart attacks or plaque build-up rarely impact my thoughts. I do, however, love suspense, but I prefer the kind with substance rather than eerie music interrupted by a bursts of sound.

Why am I talking about this now?

I watched Dorian Gray.

I'm a little behind on this one, but that seems to be a trend for me right now. Anyway, I liked the book quite a bit. Oscar Wilde's portrayal of Victorian duplicity is admirable. And even though I was a bit bored during the ridiculously long inventory of all of Dorian's extravagance, the payoff at the end was more than enough.

Wilde's novel was intended to shock people (and it succeeded), so I even began the movie intending to be shocked. The first few moments were excellent. They were shocking, but promised explanation, and (knowing the book) I recognized it as a great place to start. It set the tone and the mood perfectly, and I settled in for a good movie. For the next half hour I admired the sets, costumes, dialogue, and even the acting.

But once they were through with the novel's substance they began their self-indulgent portrayal of Dorian's moral demise. Nothing beyond what Wilde alluded to, but annoying to have to sit through. For the next half hour, you don't see hedonism in any form other than sexual immorality, which might be the reason some people will watch the film.

The rest of the movie wasn't too awful, but the mood was ruined. Why did they have to take a half a chapter's worth of material and balloon it into 30 minutes? I realized that error meant they didn't have the proper time to do the characters of Sybil and Basil justice. They were created for balance, and without them, the movie lacked . . . substance. It became a cliche and a disappointment.

I'm not the only one annoyed by this, am I?

17 January 2011

Regarding the time I took a couple months off . . .

. . . sorry. Glad to see you stuck around. You all look great by the way.

I was busy (work); I was lazy (mmm sleep); and I was distracted (Wii, family, shiny things). I was doing what I've noticed most bloggers do from time to time. I doubt many noticed - and if you did, I have a feeling you were and are okay (but thanks for noticing).

Still, in this newly started year, I return to my favorite avenue for the sharing of my thoughts.

So here's a thought I had today: I don't dream big enough. I just tweeted that sentiment, and now I want to write something more substantial.

Thanks to my subscription the npr's podcast (I'm a nerd, I know - I embrace it), I finally listened to MLK Jr.'s entire "Dream" speech. I've heard the last few minutes countless times - okay, maybe 20 - but I hadn't listened to the whole thing before. And it's worth all the hype that came with today.

I tend to pick apart speeches. I hate dislike them, especially ones from politicians. Most can be boiled down a single trite comment. This speech proves they can say so much more. The anaphora "I have a dream" is just the tip of the iceberg. MLK Jr. also repeats "now is the time," "we cannot be satisfied," "let freedom ring," and of course "free at last."

He uses jokes, allusions, contrasts, familiar places and quotations, and excellent illustrations. My new favorite quote from it is "This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism." Big words. Another thing I noticed was he is unashamedly religious. He beliefs come from somewhere greater than one person and one family.

Anyway, you already knew the speech was good. And while I generally boycott the concept of making resolutions, perhaps I will strive towards one: To dream bigger. I like to keep things practical. Which really means I hesitate before doing anything big or small. I mull things over and over and settle for the option most likely to succeed. Probably not the best practice. After all, if we never dreamed the impossible dream, we would never know what's possible.

I got this from donteatthepaste.com - great stuff there :)

20 November 2010

On a moment past

Due to a washing machine issue, I found myself at the laundromat for the first time yesterday. Special experience, I know. After starting my loads of lights and darks, I situated myself in a chair which allowed me to keep an eye on the machines and the door simultaneously (a very important thing when I'm in a new place - especially one so foreign and mysterious). I pulled out my book, started my music, and that is when she entered.

At first, I knew only that I recognized her, but after stealing several glances, I figured out who she was. She was a member of my high school graduating class. Appearance wise, Stephanie (for that is her name) hadn't changed much. But then, she could probably have said the same thing about me. It's good to know that someone else hadn't changed her hairstyle for six years either. She also wore a baggy sweatshirt and jeans - an outfit common to any high school. These factors gave me a sense of relative certainty regarding her identity. Throughout high school we had been friendly, but not particularly close. Our school was fairly small, and because we had several friends in common, we ate at the same lunch table most of the time. But I don't have any specific memories of her. After figuring out who she was, I considered saying hello.

I came up with a fairly decent plan. I would say her name with a tinge of hesitancy, mention our common place of education and drop my name (just in case she didn't remember me, although I suspected she did), and then I would ask her how she was. Her reply would dictate how long our conversation would last, and I had the easy out of "needing to check my laundry" if I wanted an escape. I was ready to tell her about the miniature deluge that had happened the day before and the consequent need for visiting the local Suds 'n Duds.

All I needed to do was find the right timing. But she had come with someone else, so I didn't want to interrupt their conversation. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would just be incredibly awkward. I began to dread that potential uneasiness. Pretty soon, I was folding my clothes and they were heading out (all their shirts would be wrinkled by the time they got home tsk tsk tsk).

I was left to my thoughts. Where's my sense of community? Why didn't we say hello? What did she think when she saw me? And where did that other black sock go? I decided my actions (or rather my lack thereof) were pathetic, but typical. I often find myself waiting for that perfect moment and miss my chance completely. We had spent over an hour in the same space, but hadn't exchanged a single word. We could have had a nice conversation. We could have shared our lives for a moment. I might have found a new person to attend concerts with (I seem to be lacking in that department). Instead, however, I did nothing, and am left with just my thoughts and this blog post.

14 November 2010

A list of my fears

In preface, I would say I'm not a very anxious person. Certain people take that for granted. My mother, for example, takes my relatively mellow personality to mean I never worry. She's wrong, and to prove it, I made a list once. Lately, my music shuffler has been favoring the following song, so I've thought about fear too much for my blog not to reflect on those ponderings.

The Rational:

*Being wrong
*Being a burden to people
*Never becoming the person I want to be
*Being blind to a person in need
*Offending someone who won't tell me
*Getting cancer

The Not-so-Rational:

*Bugs crawling into my ears at night
*Going blind or deaf
*Street gutters (falling down one, breaking my ankle in one, a monster/big snake coming out of one)
*That everyone around me is lying to me (when they say I'm smart, funny, interesting, etc.)

I like to think it's a manageable list. 

08 November 2010

A small, but annoying problem

I write down quotations. Constantly. When I'm walking past someone who makes a ridiculous comment (like the teenager who said "I don't know what it is, but your shirt reminds me of some Asianness" to her friend in the obviously Chinese-inspired top). When I see a t-shirt I like ("Prague: Czech it out"). Or when I read the newspaper (yeah, I still do that). I have a couple notebooks and Word Docs started with my favorite quips. I find myself adding to them constantly.

Consequently, I think of them frequently. I could take just about any topic and remember something Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, or Nelson Mandela said in reference. Sometimes I fear my reliance on them to evaluate life is dangerous. Well, as dangerous as mental rabbit trails can be.

Still, I find myself drawn to them. Usually, I copy them with great (OCD-like) accuracy and include the proper attribution. Sometimes, however, I forget, or my writing is unclear, or I don't know who to give the credit to. A quick Google search will generally tell me who said it and why, so lately, I haven't cared much if I forgot to write down who said the particular piece of wisdom or wit I decided to transcribe.

I've included all that information because I found a post-it yesterday with an excellent quote:

(In case you are having trouble reading my writing it says "The problem with most people isn't that they set the bar too high and fail, but that they set the bar too low and succeed.")
I'm not sure when I wrote it (like I said, I do this frequently), although I can understand why it would have seemed important to do so. The words resonate with me. I get so caught up in meeting small, somewhat insignificant goals that I ignore the big ones. I'm good at the here and now. The long run seems insurmountable. I know I can substitute teach for a day, but I'm not sure I can get a job I really want/need. I find myself content with low standards. I like my petty triumphs too much.

But that's not what bothers me. Right now, at least, all I seem to care about is "Who said that?" I really need to know. Well, I don't need to know, but I really want to. An extensive search (via Google) has lead me nowhere. I tried to convince myself that something is true no matter who said it, but I have this unshakable desire for context.

Has anyone heard it before? I tend to think it was from a book, or a movie, or perhaps just a youtube video. Alas, I will have to be more cautious when writing these things in the future.