Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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Packed and I'm holding.

I've been getting the urge to be fairly hostile recently, not just aggressive like I usually am but biting and even cruel. It's been a struggle to control it, I've done a decent job but it's leaked through my barriers of self control at times, and I've said some regrettable things. I'm not sure of the reasons for it, there are all the usual suspects plus the impending death of my cousin, who I haven't had news of in days. There's also another possibility, which is testasterone. I'm losing weight, and fat produces estrogen while muscle helps with testasterone. It may be changing hormone letters that have increased my edge and aggressiveness. Of course there's not much I can do about this, I NEED to get in shape, and I'm starting to get addicted to the endorphins from the exercise. Not only that, but I think clearly when I'm out there walking. Words just come to me, flowing, free, polished, perfect. They may not last until I get back, but while I'm out there my head is working. Of course even at home I'm gaining some sharpness back. I think that the weightloss plays a role in that, and also the adjustment to what's been going on. It's unfortunate that the positive aspects of the sharpness, the quicker and more agile mind, is being combined with the nasty sharpness that I thought I'd rid myself of awhile ago.

The truth is, when I'm out there walking, sweating, moving swiftly through the city, I feel better than I do at any other point during this stage of my life. It's an amazing feeling, and all the fears of failure and lthe loneliness and the rest of it fade into the background. It's become important to me, and I only wish that my poor feet could handle more than a couple hours a day. I really should get some new shoes and some special insoles, but those always feel weird and the new shoes would definitely blister the sides of my feet while I was adjusting to them. The truth of the matter is, though, that if I were offered a choice between physical fitness and time and opportunity to exercise and the talent and resources necessary to accomplish my creative dreams, I'm not sure what I'd pick at this point. I'm tired of being fat, and I'm as happy when I'm out there pounding my feet on the pavement as I am when the writing is really flowing and I can feel something beautiful taking shape. Hopefully I'll be able to accomplish both, but it's good to layer extra interests on to my life. I need to be a multidimensional well-rounded person, and all that jazz.

The Mets have been better recently. They are above .500 and they have two straight wins over the dreaded Yankees, including a dramatic one yesterday where John Franco threw a borderline pitch with the bases loaded, a full count, and the score tied, and it was called a strike. The replays are inconclusive as to whether it was or not, but baseball doesn't get much more tense than that (except if it had been the BOTTOM of the 9th.) Watching the Mets has become fun again, and that makes me happy.

Watched "Something's Got To Give" I Netflixed (It's not a word, but saying rented is dishonest because there's no price attached, and saying 'ordered from Netflix' is a bit wordy) The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King, but The Mummy Returns is in full frame, and I don't watch Scope movies in full frame. Too much image lost,. I don't watch sequels without first watching the movies that preceeded them, and though Scorpion King is neither a true sequel nor that tied in to the Mummy franchise, but it's a neurotic thing, and I didn't particularly want to see that anyway. Anyway, back to the movie I actually watched, it's interesting. Really a rather conventional script and traditional Hollywood job of direction, elevated by two seasoned and incredibly charismatic performers. That's not to say that the script is without charm, but I think a lot of it comes from the freedom of working with older characters. They are not confused about life, or struggling to establish themselves, or any of that stuff that so often gets mixed up into romantic comedies, which gives the film a much stronger focus. Of course that's not to say that the scripting or direction aren't decent, but I think that the movie derives the majority of its strength from the choice to use older characters and the actors that portray them. It shows one of the major issues with Hollywood, which is the underuse of the older set, especially women. Obviously an actress like Pamela Anderson is not going to do good work after her tits and ass start drooping, but there is a lot of untapped talent out there. Diane Keaton is able to show a level of vulnerability and depth that just blows away 90% of the stuff out there, and of course Jack is Jack, not a great actor at this point (though he might still have it in him) but a very great star. The film made money too, which proves that using these talents is commercially viable, but Hollywood isn't particularly interested, at least it seems not to be. That's what comes from having executives in their 30's, many of them not paricularly intelligent or talented, make project decisions, I guess. Sure, demographics matter, but quality matters more.

Of course I don't mean to be gushing towards the film. For one thing, at $80 million production costs it is bloated, and not just in terms of money. The set and production designs are too expensive and perfect, hiring Keanu Reeves in the supporting role he has is just weird (He went from being superexpensive Neo in one of the biggest action trilogys of all time to playing a Hampton's doc with 15 minutes of screentime? I mean it makes sense for him, he probably wanted to do something where he didn't have to spend hours suspended by wires and learning complicated kung fu routines, but why would they hire him? It's not that he's bad, it's just that he stands out. I wouldn't suggest they hire Nicholson as the supporting doctor if it were a romantic comedy with younger leads.) and there are definitely some rough spots in both script and direction. For one thing there's some incredible arrogance, Diane Keaton's playwrite character is creating a play during the movie, and of course she bases it on what's going on in the movie. The problem is, she lifts lines directly from the screenplay to put into the theatrical play. Film and theatre are different formats and they need to be written differently to function. It's not cool, in my opinion, to write a brilliant playwrite who uses lines from YOUR screenplay into said screenplay, unless it's brilliant, which in this case it isn't. With an $80 million budget they could have hired a real playwrite for like $15 k to do that part of the script, and it would have worked better. There's also a cuteness problem, the film starts out like it might be heading towards being both amusing and somewhat deep, developing these older characters and doing something interesting with them. Instead it opts to be cute and shoehorn them into a fairly conventional plot that is a rather big let-down. It needed significant tightening, and it should have gone deep rather than light. There were opportunities not taken.

I know that at least one person who will read this will say "Well you should write a better script for older characters!" I know I'm 22, and a terrible writer, so that's not an option at the moment. What the movie did remind me of was that writing is work and you have to put in the time. I have that time at present and I need to buckle down and WRITE. I have motive, opportunity, and even an idea. It's just a matter of practice practice practice to find out what I can do.

I have some things I want to say about independence day, and I will try to post that today, but there's something else I want to talk about. I've been arguing on the internet (I know, I know, a dumb thing to do but I can't help myself) and I've run into the dreaded "They're not reading/listening to what I'm writing/saying" issue. Now I've been accused of this before, most notably by theferrett (who I think does it just as an opening strategic gambit in many arguments, regardless of whether he believes it or not) but also by a guy I was talking to a few days ago. In those cases I didn't agree with it, I believe that I paid attention but just disagreed, and that there may have been miscommunication but at least some of it was on the other people's part. Anyway, I realize how frustrating it is when you don't think someone is reading what you're writing, but I don't know how productive it is to just level accusations at people that they aren't paying attention. A better approach is to try and explain yourself a little more thoroughly and work with the person so that they can understand what you're saying. The reason that I bring this up, is that I think miscommunication and just a general refusal to communicate is an epidemic in our culture now. Black people say white people aren't listening, women claim that men are incapable of understanding their perspective, there's a lot of refusal to make an attempt at explaining oneself to people who 'can't understand.' I think it sucks.

If someone doesn't understand what you're saying, maybe you're not communicating properly. In the end, with the only one of the people I was talking to face to face, he finally came to the conclusion that I did understand him, but that he was coming from a "spiritual place" and I was coming from an "intellectual place" and our argument was fruitless because of that. I didn't find that satisfactory but I wasn't going to press the issue. Communicating and understanding foreign views is hard work, but it's necessary work, and Americans need to make a better go of it. Maybe if our government had tried some of that in Iraq we wouldn't be in the situation we're in. There was a recent Times editorial that made the point that the Bush Administration just took things on faith and didn't try to understand the Arab perspective. To me, that's just a projection of our nation's culture right now. I'm not a hippy, I don't think we can have love ins in big fields and come to understand each other, man. If we only have love and pot, man. It's damned hard work to understand the perspective of someone you don't agree with. And it doesn't pay well, at least in cash.
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