Saturday, June 13
Good movies I've seen for the first time in the last few weeks...
The Sound of Music - I usually have the notion that old musicals are only going to contain nothing but sweet honeyed love with unrealistic characters surrounded by rainbows and dancing cherubs, and so I put off seeing them as long as I can as in this case. Of course the movie is full of excessive cuteness, but it's bearable even too a cynic like me. The ole romantic in me even reared its pretty head at times. The characters are all lovable, and the war and the bad old Nazis weren't portrayed just as "the bad guys" because of poor Rolfe. It was easy to grow to care about the characters and their fortunes. Then of course all the songs were fun, beautiful, and memorable too the point of me having the words to the do re me song and how do you solve a problem like maria? stuck in my head for more than a week.
Casino - I watched this directly after The Sound of Music for whatever reason so now the two will be forever combined in my mind - they're kind of polar opposites I must say. There's a bit more death and betrayal and drugs and blood in this one. I'm a sucker for gangster movies like teen females are for Nicholas Sparks books, boyish good looks and sexily shimmering vampires. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but they offer a completely different world with its own ethics and totally endearing anti-heroes and lovable monstrous evildoers. I fall in love with the movies and start imagining myself longingly as a part of their worlds though I know a gangster I shall never be. This movie made me lose more than a bit of the optimistic humanity I'd gained from The Sound of Music pretty immediately, but what a great tragic movie it was. I've never been so aware of every character in a movie slowly and painfully moving towards death. It's interesting because you don't really (or at least I didn't) sit there rooting or praying for any of the characters to succeed or survive, but the characters are just so real and so cunning, although oblivious to their own overly ambitious failures.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) - I'd seen the newer one and didn't like it and I've never actually liked a zombie movie before (aside from Shaun of the Dead), but I found a first.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead - This is the best Hamlet I've seen (I've only seen Hamlet 2) but I think it would be a lot better to see as a play. I really wasn't too big a fan of the movie, but I love the concept of it - that two of the insignificant characters are wandering around the Hamlet play attempting to make sense of it all and of the world and of their place in it.
Rosemary's Baby - This movie had me creeped the crap out (partly due to a lot of naked old people chanting like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named). Usually I'm not daunted by eerie fear in movies, but the utter helplessness of little Miss Rosemary got to me. You feel so sorry for the girl and fear for her. Mia Farrow is pretty good at suffering on film I guess. The dream sequence devil was just plain ridiculous and some of the ritualistic stuff seemed a bit silly, but the rest of the movie genuinely disturbed me.
Take the Money and Run - It's probably my least favorite Woody Allen movie I've seen so far, but it's still a lot funnier than all the other comedies I've seen recently. I like failed felons almost as much as I like accomplished gangsters and there are some great moments. Favorite line: "After spending 15 minutes with her I knew I wanted to marry her...After 30 minutes I knew I had totally given up the idea of stealing her purse."
Also, in a few hours of absolute boredom last night I decided to attempt to make a list of every movie I've ever seen. I figured out that, to the best of my memory, I'm currently at 918. My only revelation after the list is that I have seen hundreds upon hundreds of really awful movies and need to start filtering a little better.
5 Movies I Want to See Soon:
The Godfather Part II
Raiders of the Lost Ark (I've seen it, but when I was around 7)
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
Finally...Movies on my DVR to be watched in the coming month or months:
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Bringing up Baby
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Driving Miss Daisy
blah blah blah...too many episodes of House recorded
Into the Wild
Men of Honor
Out of the Past
Sense and Sensibility
Some Like it Hot
The Spirit of St. Louis
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
Woody Allen: A Life in Film
Friday, March 6
I decided to escape civilization for a time this past weekend and drove off in the early morning to a hiking location halfway between Austin and Bastrop that I had read about. My visit to "McKinney Roughs" was not quite on par with my expectations, and yet, it still fulfilled its purpose…I believe – its purpose being stints of absolute solitude. This desire for solitude somehow became inseparably combined with my boyhood thirst for adventure as well.
Solitude found me for the period of approximately 270 minutes, with minor interruptions provided by three groups of horsewomen and men (one of which passed me four times), a lone hiker, a group of four hiking me, one couple, and several folks I assume were workers, as well as quite a number of classic campout eyesores. Unfortunately, the nearly all-encompassing tranquility seemed to extend to the wildlife as well. While small aviators alit often on branches, the animal paradise I had hoped to find apparently exists no longer. I did, however, notice a number of eagles, vultures, and the like, and nearing the end of my hike, a friendly armadillo. While optimistic at the outset, after several long pause-and-search sessions of trees to identify peculiar sounds, I realized that I was largely alone with the haunting creak of these trees. Finally, in regard to finding life on the trail, I was quite, curiously, disappointed at finding no gaping spider webs blocking my path (I contemplated bringing, and almost brought, an umbrella to clear a path – like a real woodsmen, but decided against carrying the awkward object). All that existed were endless lines of green trees and dead trees, and a few hybrids with decayed branches covered in greenish beardlike mosses. I would only find beauty in most places in a shadow or a strangely broken branch, once or twice a mile. The time was primarily spent for the sake of solitude, loving the fact that none were near (although I was never solitary enough to be able to yell without causing a vast search party, or fear), and where I could simply converse with myself, both mentally and aloud I’m ashamed to say. When there is (you hope) no one for miles, the occasional self-speak/song is acceptable in my opinion.
I mentioned earlier that there was a second reason for my journey – the desire for adventure. This I also fulfilled. First of all, I don’t quite understand entirely the reasoning behind the rule that such parks always have: “Please do not stray from the trail in order to preserve the integrity of the park” or something to that effect. It makes the whole environment seem much more like a zoo than nature – a simulated environment. My own personal desire in going hiking at least on that day was to be utterly ensconced in nature, a feat made difficult by the constant reminders that lumberjacks have recently been to chop. I’m a man – I want to push through branches, leap over alligators, spear a tuna, battle a lion. In actuality, I only have the occasional desire to take “shortcuts” and cut through forested areas and climb up hills and such. While I thoroughly enjoy the calm, at some points there just seems to be too much monotony in most hikes. And when this feeling overtakes me, I stop, look around, and plunge into some dense patch of forest. This darn testosterone within me just gives me an urge to do something manly from time to time I suppose. Usually the thought comes spontaneously, but I’ve learned in past experiences that pathfinding (literally finding another path in this case) can be quite the experience. Pull out your map, pick a direction (likely you’ll end up lost anyway so it doesn’t really matter), and then charge through God’s creation. The journeys typically only lead to a few broken branches along the way and maybe some scratched-up skin and it’s as if I was never there. I understand that if every person that came to the trail gave into like urges we might do some damage, but in locations like this one, with over 20 miles of trail, I think it would be quite difficult to ever do any significant or irreparable damage.
My exploit for which I am most proud came in the last half hour of my hike. I body was weary and I had just sat out beside the great lesser Colorado River for a time, and then decided to head back to my car when I noticed directly in front of me a very steep hill-cliff structure. I didn’t immediately plan to brave it, but I saw that there were several hikers standing on the trail about 100 feet away in my path and decided I didn’t want to have to deal with the unavoidable “beautiful day, isn’t it?” type courtesy questions. I looked forward down the path and then turned to the left and began to dash up the dashable portion of hill. There was about a 15 dirt incline of no significant incline, a steady increase in angle that had me slipping often, and then a sort of dirt wall of varying yellows – a 60 degree incline that only steepened as the top of the minicliff was reached, after about 25 feet. I found a broken limb (not my own) to help me steady myself and looked in front of me and upwards. It looked as if a bulldozer had lifted away a considerable portion of earth. Some roots protruded through the dirt wall and branches from trees below as well as roots from trees above provided the necessary aid to reach my goal. I turned around momentarily to contemplate turning back from the suicide attempt but realized I would almost undoubtedly come rolling down through the dirt and the momentum acquired might even be enough to cast me through the thin line of trees and into the river. Also I didn’t want to terrify any fellow hikers – with my luck the timing would cast a few of them into the river with me as well. After my mind returned to the matter at hand, I grabbed a number of branches on both my left and right, so as to have some hope of some not breaking, and pulled myself to a place where I could balance, finding a sort of foot tall foot-sized cave to balance in and made my way up steadily for awhile, with great caution taking not to put too much faith in any branches or roots. At the final 10 feet, it seemed to just be a complete cliff. I turned back again, grasping in front of me a root in each hand and leaning away from the wall, and was assured that if falling would not break my legs, the river would certainly be my next destination. So I looked up and grabbed a snake-like root and nothing else and acted as if it were an actual climbing rope until I reached the top. One final obstacle I had not considered found me at the top – a complete wall of bramble and branch. I now had plenty to grab onto, but unfortunately I had no real strength to push myself through the wood, so I swung my root over a few feet and barely managed to push through the branches, and somehow only received a few bloody wounds on the tops of my hands. All I could think about at the time while hovering between life and paralyzed life was the real import of the great invention – the machete.
The adventure had now been fully completed and the pathfinder within was satisfied to begin a long journey to find some trail and then the parking lot. There’s something so thrilling about a precarious situation – your animal survival instincts kick in, when in everyday life there is no reason for them to be employed. And whether it is from pride - a general sense of accomplishment at having achieved a goal or relief at not dying, the experiences inevitably bring forth a great joy (and as I am still feeling, a great pain in the muscles).
Tuesday, March 3
As I walked to the Union, a number of people were walking by me that looked as if they had just come from a sleepover, with big sleeping backs, blankets, and pillows and I couldn't figure out why. It dawned on me when I saw the line - a good 80 feet from the building. A worker there informed several of us that people had started camping out by the building at 9 pm the previous night. Now, I understand fearing tickets selling out and I even understand the desire to just go out and camp out somewhere way before the tickets you want go on sale for the fun of the adventure with friends. What I don't understand is "why 9 pm?" There are 1100 tickets going on sale, and unless you are genuinely concerned that there are going to be 1100 more devoted Demetri Martin fans out there who are planning on showing up at 9:15, I'd think you might show up at the earliest, in the early AMs. You could easily go and hang out, party, go bowling, whatever for a few hours before going out to the adventure of camping outside the Union. I would think the fun would begin to dissipate after an hour or two, with the cold and the lack of motion and all. I can only think that these people were expecting Demetri himself to come and congratulate his most devoted fans, or that they might get a complimentary secret joke or custom poster or something of the sort.
Anyway, with the line as it was, I had a 25 minute wait ahead of me that snaked through the building, with plenty of workers to keep us in single file. The quota of 1100 people was reached just before 8:30. I had hoped to be able to get two tickets, or to bring friends in some way, but I couldn't think of anyone that would be willing to wait in such a monstrous line for a comedian they likely don't know. And so, I will be able to have a nice enjoyable weekday night, but with strangers. My hope is that there will be a large number of displaced loners, because everyone else in at least a three person radius seemed to be resigned to going alone. I fear both that my neighbors won't find the jokes I find funny as such and I'll be laughing loudly by myself, and the fact that I'll have to get there early in order to be guaranteed admission (there are a total of 1200 tickets in circulation I believe so I've only got to beat 100, and I assume many won't show up if they have to go alone). Nevertheless, I'm still quite excited for the event. Besides, I can always slide a book into my coat in case no one around me feels sociable and I don't run into any familiar faces.
Friday, February 27
I found my old Houston schools and where we went on our summer Hawaii vacation, before searching Austin town, finding my dorm and my window in the 3D application that allows for the UT campus to stand up like a rotatable pop-up book. Additionally, by pinpointing the International School of Aberdeen, I located all of the points of interest I recall while living in Scotland. There's our roof. There's the ditch behind our house we'd play in when it snowed. There's the playground by the bus stop. Then of course, a little ways away, there's our school - the recess area, the little patch of trees where one day several of my friends took on a number of nasty wasp stings. Finally, I devoted some time to sight-seeing around the globe. It's quite an enjoyable program for anyone with a definite thirst for adventure without the resolve to actually leave the home.
The whole system makes me a bit fearful about issues of privacy though, with these superpowered satellites stationed around the globe. I don't see how we can have so many fugitives that we can't find when we can spot people from space, using FREE Internet software. Rest assured, government, I have nothing, and no one, to hide - in case you're just as closely monitoring the blogosphere (which would be pretty much useless) - but I'd like to think that I could escape to some haven if you guys ever wanted to have me killed. It really is incredible technology though. I'm constantly amazed at new scientific as well as Google innovations - I eagerly look forward to the release of Google Space sometime in the near future.
Wednesday, February 25
Awkward situations of the day (beginning after the jog, because there are just too many weird things to think about there):
I feel bad about this one, but I couldn't tell if the person who held the door open for me, from quite a distance so I was legitimately thankful, was a male or a female -luscious hair to be sure, but gender unknown. I was fairly certain it was an individual of the female variety (and I later verified this truth), but as she half-turned as I took hold of the door, I began to say Thank you ma'am, but came to a halt before the final word awkwardly. My head bobbed down in a thankful attitude just as i prepared her title, but as I halted the sentence abruptly, I kept my head down.
After my first class I went to our nearby market to get lunch, and just so happened to walk just behind and a little to the side of the same girl from the time I got out to the street near the building that contains my first class for about ten minutes until I reached the market, which she of course was headed to as well. I walked in just behind her, and she went in one door and I the one beside it so that she might not be completely fearing a stalker. However, I noticed with great dismay that she took from her side the same meal I was desiring, so I switched over to her side and grabbed the same meal item, then went to get a drink, and she took my drink as well. We checked out at the same time and then both set off in the direction of my building...Luckily she didn't go in and passed it by, or that could have made an awkward elevator ride, if I rode the elevator that is.
After my second class I went into our library for the first time with the intention of checking out a book. I had to go into the building briefly for a class once, so that they could give us a brief lecture about how to use the web-based materials, but I had never seen anything of the library beyond the entrance hallway and the computer basement. I wanted to get a book on the French Revolution, since I've learned about it in two classes this semester already, and neither course has taught me anything beyond what I was taught in sophomore year of high school (I haven't mentioned it, but I'm quite annoyed at both my sociology and history classes - they're pretty much useless as of yet). And then I want to reread The Screwtape Letters because my church is having a small group where they discuss it starting next week. Anyway, the building of our main library is massive. I had checked the book numbers and locations earlier to the books I wanted, but had pretty much forgotten them by now. I remembered "B" and "D" when I should have remembered "DC 148 S43" and "BR 125 L67," but unfortunately my memory is not that wonderfully talented. After my initial walk up a floor, turning around and walking down two floors, before deciding to actually go through the door to the floor two floors up, for which I'm sure I looked a fool, I found myself in a labyrinth of bookcases. And there was the "BD" section right in front of me! I was excited, but there were so so many shelves around me. I walked through one aisle absentmindedly and stopped in the middle. The first book I saw said something to the effect of The Coming of Thanatos. I shuddered, became intrigued, but then walked on. That place is amazing and I could spend hours in there if I had a mind to - there is practically no one in the mile long expanses of shelves, and there is absolute silence. However, after 10 minutes or so of perusing books and subjects, I was defeated and resolved to come back after my last class. I could have looked up the ID's of the books in a computer lab that was in the library, but there seemed a very mildly difficult way of signing in and I feared somehow screwing up and instead made a few calls to people in hopes that they'd look up my information for me. I'm an awful and lazy person I know. I didn't get any results.
On the way out of the library I ran into a number of breakings of the social code, as I know it. First, I found myself blocked in an aisle on Hinduism by an older student, who either did not notice my desire to pass or didn't notice the confined space between shelves that necessitate one-way, or no, traffic. I ended up giving up and walking back the way I had come and circling around in the adjacent aisleway. Just because of that, I'm never converting to Hinduism. Next, (and not really that bothersome) I found myself leaving the floor at the same time as a middle-aged oriental man. The stairwell was abuzz with people flowing upwards, but it seemed to be only myself and my comrade between Floors 3 and 2. Still, he took each step as if savoring it, and several times took out his cell phone and practically stopped to read whatever was on the screen. It was an ordeal traveling down that one floor's distance.
Lastly, on my way out, I planned first to go out the automated door, but reconsidered on seeing the sign reminding all to conserve energy and use the revolving doors. There were two people in the doors ahead of me when I entered, and both put a great deal of effort into the pushing of the doors so I decided I'd casually wait out the end to the rotation as there didn't seem to be anyone in any of the other doors. There seemed just enough energy in the door's motion to propel me out to open air, but it stopped just short. It was then that I noticed that a rather large Asian boy was behind me in MY part of the door. I panicked. The door had all but stopped moving and in order to provide sufficient force to make the door complete its half-rotation, I would need to lean heavily on the door, stepping back into the kid. I paused momentarily to contemplate the absurdity of this kid's decision to dissolve all social order and enter my already filled compartment, and then leaned awkwardly against the glass and pushed as hard as I could, giving the minimum force required to provide escape from the hellish situation. Ahh, fresh air and space. I'm using the automatic door forevermore.
After my last class, ran into another awkward problem I couldn't remedy in my head. I typically walk with a girl (whose name I can't remember...) for a few minutes before we part ways to go to our own dorms. This time however, I was going her direction to the library so I planned on walking with her. The problem was, that I was late to class and had a very different hairstyle from my recent haircut, and she I don't think knew I was there. After class I ended up right next to her for a good while without either of us saying anything, but I got off easy because she ran into someone she recognized and I fled quickly. In my defense, I don't think she knows my name either.
Walking to get an early dinner/snack I passed through our campus's area of greatest advertisement/awareness-mongering and passed in between curiously differing groups. On my right, awareness of third-world prostitutes and general call for charity-people standing together in "NOT FOR SALE" T-shirts. On my left, the U.T. water-ski team, complete with sunglassesed jocks, rockin' music, and a large motorboat.
When I left with my food, there was a group that just a little ways in front of me that provided for some awkwardness-driven comedy. The last to exit the building was one of the girls and she looked back at me as she held the door, then to the door, then back at me, and then walked out. I made it to the door shortly after and she apologized for not holding the door open (when by my analysis the distance was much too great between us), proclaiming that she was awful with awkwardness, but this sparked a brief debate between the three of them of the distance, and whether it is even necessary to hold a door open for a guy. The guy in their group concluded that there is an unwritten "Bro Code" that we can safely abide by, to which I responded with a simple thumbs up.
And the last awkward thing that has happened thusfar in the day occurred actually while I was contemplating this irregularly long list of happenings. I was within a hundred feet or so of my dorm building with another tenant a few steps behind me, and a bush with bees flying wildly just beside and in front of me. Now, I'm fairly clumsy (who isn't) and don't always take my steps too intentionally, so I tripped over nothing and ended up within a few centimeters of the hedge bush and my head knocked against one of the bees. Attempting to salvage some dignity in the eyes of the walker behind me, I kept at a straight line (bee-line haha) right next to the hedge, but after I had passed by the hedge completely, quite a number of the bees had remained with me. There were several flying beside me and two directly in front of my face. After a few steps, my old fear of bees cropped up too powerfully and I did a swift both-palms-up-to-block-my-face maneuver, accompanied by a 360 spin on my heel and then tried to walk into the building as if nothing had happened. It felt like one of those walk-through-a-spiderweb-moments, except that a swarm of bees is quite noticeable to the outside eye. I'm an accomplished bee-killer, so I may take out a can of raid one of these days and exact my revenge.
THE END (of another too long and time-wasting post)