The Olympics

I tried watching the Olympics on the internet tonight.  Greedy NBC can’t even let you watch old stuff without inserting hideous commercials so I turned it off.  Then I decided to try and watch it from another country. Canadian Television worked just fine without the stupid Proctor and Gamble ads.  Gag.  Commercials are one of the main reasons I do not own a television.  That, and most shows are so inane I can’t stand to waste my precious time watching them.  Life is happening; I would rather experience it (even when it’s not that exciting) than spend my time staring at some dumb television show.  I think back to the shows I used to watch when I had a t.v. and none of them were worth the time I spent.

I do like some of the cable series and have watched them on DVD, Six Feet Under, Weeds, and Dexter.  Unfortunately, though, whenever I get into one of these shows, they take over my life because I just want to watch and watch until I get to the end.  However, I do look back fondly on them, like a good book, which is different than mainstream television shows I spent years watching (ER, Party of Five, and Ally McBeal).  Years after I quit watching ER I tuned in.  None of the characters I had watched before were left.  I quit when they took the adopted child away from the gay doctor because she was gay.  That just made me too mad and I didn’t want to hang around for weeks to try and find out what happened, plus they always took months long breaks.

I haven’t had a television now for years and I don’t miss it.  Thought I missed it some when the Olympics started, but having tried to watch via NBC, I’ve gotten a clue how they run things and I would hate it.  I’m not missing anything.  NBC would chop the shit out of it all, ruin it with ads and cuts to other events right when things were getting interesting, keep out the athletes who aren’t their pets, and generally make viewing miserable.  I can get whatever I need right here on the internet.  I’ll log in to Ukranian television.  Yeah, that will work.

When Conversations are Too Much Work

Have you ever had the experience where simply communicating with someone is so much work that you end up not speaking much of the time just because you don’t want to deal with the effort of it?  You find yourself silent a lot of the time or only speaking about nonsense that means not much in the scheme of things.  Then when you spend time with another person who isn’t so difficult to communicate with, it takes time to remember what it was like to have a conversation of any consequence, so you’re silent for a while.  But then once you get started you talk and talk and talk, as if you opened a dam letting the water move into the empty basin below.  Weird, these conversations that are too much effort.

Swimming

Let me state from the outset that I have been examined by a physician and I am not clinically depressed.  I have also seen a psychiatrist and she has also said that I am not depressed.  I was. During my pregnancy, I suffered severe perinatal depression.  I came to understand that perinatal depression is often intrinsically linked to one’s relationships and support systems.  Pregnancy creates its own little hormonal time-bomb; bad relationships or lack of support can set the bomb off.  In my case, I had both.  My partner was fundamentally incapable of dealing with the mental demands of my pregnancy, and I was 3000 miles away from my friends and family.  I got well, however.  I went to a psychiatrist.  She helped me to understand the physical changes and demands of my pregnancy on my brain, and provided the support I was not getting at home.  Although I do not see her regularly anymore, I maintain contact with her and have continued taking depression screens.  I am not depressed.

I open with that caveat because I have changed in a way with which I am not quite at ease., but the lack of ease is not manifesting itself as angst.  Rather, I observe that I am how I am.  I’ve become ridiculously unflappable, even when it seems flap might be in order.  I observe people experiencing their emotions, particularly in relationships, and often I wonder what all the excitement is about.  It isn’t that I don’t feel.  Quite the contrary.  I love my daughters so much it can bring me to tears.  Yet I see how people get quite excited about things that seem so silly and I simply cannot feel it.  I feel like I’m observing beings from another planet.

I have become remarkably disengaged.  I used to feel a pressing urge to write and publish.  Lately, I have the desire to write, but it isn’t quite so urgent anymore.  Words aren’t tapping my brain.  They are there.  They swim in and swim out.  But mostly now it’s like I’m a fish swimming along observing, with no desire to share it with anyone.  Life is there.  I see it.  Now I see something else.  It’s odd, this feeling.  My head used to be so energetic.  No more.  So much of what I observe seems so unendingly ridiculous.  Humanity seems destined for demise, at a faster and faster pace, and I’m just swimming along watching.  This is part of why I haven’t found much to write about lately; nothing seems much to demand so much energy.  So much of what goes on seems such a waste of time, and I’m busy taking care of my baby, my daughter, and myself.  I’m not talking about the things that are important.  I’m not talking about working hard on things that are worthwhile.  But a lot of energy is wasted on a lot that isn’t important at all, and I cannot fathom what all the fuss is about.  The whole world seems caught up in a lot of nonsense.  A LOT of nonsense.  Reality television, piss poor bands, sports, “Tea Parties” by uneducated fools who wouldn’t know democracy if it hit them in the face, which star slept with whom, and on and on.  I know.  I’m being judgmental.  But so much of what is important is lost in the barrage of incessant noise, background constancy that distracts and distracts and distracts, numbing and pulling attention away from most of what is important.

The other day I pulled up in front of my house to wait for my daughter to bring something out to me from the house.  As I sat there waiting for her, a person drove up behind me.  They could have gone around, there was room, but did not.  After about 20 seconds, the woman gunned her engine and drove up next to me, screaming and flipping me off, before driving on.  I just looked at her.  What in the world was that about?  Why all the fuss over having to go around?  People can be seriously deranged.

Some say if you aren’t mad, you aren’t paying attention.  To some degree I agree.  But I just can’t get fired up anymore.  Over and over and over, hypocrisy, ignorance, and idiocy seem destined for superiority.  So I observe.  I feel like someone watching humanity as it drives itself over a cliff.

Not Best Picture

This was published on Huffington Post.  See it here.

It is movie awards time. The Golden Globes were just handed out and the Oscar race is nearly on. I could not believe Avatar won the Golden Globes award for best picture. Why is it that if a movie is filled with spectacular special effects it is considered a best picture candidate?

Asking this question is some evidence that I think a best picture is one that actually contains characters who show some complexity, or a story that is unique in some way beyond what the film looks like. I simply do not consider as best picture a movie that is unique only on a visual scale. There were so many deliciously brilliant films this year, I’m frustrated that a film whose only merit is visual is sweeping the awards yet again.

If Avatar had been set on earth, with humans riding horses in their beautifully lush jungle, the imperialists coming to destroy the land for profit, it simply would not have been possible best-picture fodder. I doubt it would barely climb out of B-movie-land. The story has been told, and it has been told better. The Mission comes to mind. Even Australia, which had some predictability and overwrought elements, but visually stunning panoramas, was a better film. At least it attempted character development.

However, Avatar is a visually stunning movie, and for that reason alone, everyone is going to see it and it is winning awards. Give us a few years and its effects will not be quite so grand after we’ve seen the same sort of thing a few hundred times. Remember Jurassic Park? The first time I saw that movie I was awestruck. I saw it again recently and while it is moderately entertaining, the dinosaurs are no longer quite so spectacular because I have seen giant CGI creatures so often, I am used to them. Not such a thrill these days.

Halfway through Avatar I was already frustrated by its bland formula and dialogue. The characters on Pandora lacked anything unusual other than what they looked like. Sure, James Cameron spent years creating this “other world,” but that world certainly looked awfully earth-like to me. The characters were prototypical natives, down to their bare feet, the beads in their hair, and feathers in their arrows. There is the tribal chief queen and the royal children destined for marriage. There is the natives’ intrinsic harmony with that land. And let’s not forget their natural-world deity (native Americans, anyone?). Even their alien steeds, both land and air versions, look like horses — albeit with some extra legs and wings, and reins that could connect to their riders’ minds. Yes, in some of the details, the Na’vi were clearly aliens, but nothing about them was unique to the point they were unrecognizable as fundamentally human, something one might expect would occur on a planet somewhere far from earth.

And the human characters, don’t even get me started. They were such caricatures, I could hardly stand to watch some of them. The bad guys were Very Bad. We knew they would be Very Bad the moment they showed up onscreen. The early dialogue in the film was unrealistic, managing to give us all the background we needed in the span of ten minutes. Hyper bad Marine colonel. Check. Scientist who wants to save Pandora and empathizes with the natives. Check. Evil corporate greedy guy. Check. Main character who will save the day. Check. Sexy native woman who is won over by main character. Check. And on and on. None of them had any depth beyond a mud puddle.

I suppose I should not be surprised that a picture so visually breathtaking while simultaneously lacking any depth is considered by many to be the best picture of the year. Spectacle seems to be the theme in so much of America these days. Rather than intelligent debate regarding complex issues, politics has been reduced to screaming sound bites and accusations. The worse the behavior, the more attention it gets. Reality television has mostly replaced anything resembling more complex programming. Spectacularly bad behavior replays constantly where the most loud and obnoxious wins, at least to the extent that the winner gets their face plastered all over the tabloids, their hideous behavior played out ad nauseam.

I liked Avatar. I did. I was moderately entertained when I wasn’t squirming in my seat at the made-for-t.v. movie dialogue. The visual effects were cool. But I just can’t see it as a best-picture candidate. Best means superlative of good, surpassing all others in excellence. Avatar may be the best today for visual effects, but in all other areas it was barely average. No matter how you cut it this just isn’t what a best picture should be.