Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cubicle to the Rescue

For some reason, Stoker let me leave this morning wearing brown corduroy pants, black shoes, AND cream colored socks. The socks wouldn't be so bad if I had my brown shoes on, the shoes I meant to wear, but as I was picking them, he distracted me with a work-story and I didn't realize what I was doing. Obviously he didn't either. As it is, I look like I'm trying to make some statement about the '80s. It's terrible. I feel horribly awkward.

Did I mention the pants aren't quite floods, but they hike up a little when I sit down? It wouldn't be so bad if my socks weren't in such contrast with the pants and shoes.

Luckily, I can hide in my cubicle for most of the day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Indie Film Burnout or Old Age?

Is it a mark of my evolving cynicism, or is it old age revealing itself in my fervent derision of the indie film stereotypes? Or could it be both? Am I just world-weary?

Yesterday I watched two “indie” films. I employ the quotation marks around indie for the sarcasm. That’s right, it’s not an accident. I mean, indie, like, yeah right. How can you call that indie? Remember when an indie film meant that there weren’t big names involved or big money? Ok, maybe there was never a time like that, my memory of indie films only goes back to my final years as an undergraduate. Before that I only knew big studio releases. My first exposure to indie films involved your typical Kevin Smith fare, Clerks and the crappy Mallrats. After that I sought other indie films and when possible, watched them at the only art-house cinema in Logan, Utah.

So, perhaps when I say indie, I mean small budget films that don’t feature award-winning actors and actresses who know their talent rules and all that.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. My cynicism, you see. And maybe old age. It’s setting in, I can feel it. In a recent conversation with a friend, Math Matt, who’s over the thirty hump, I learned that the late twenties are the worst. He’s less bitter now and I’m more bitter, if you can believe it. Math Matt used to be universally described as bitter and surly. And I was the youthful, positive one chasing her dreams, hell-bent on accomplishing anything she damn well pleased. Where has that girl gone?

For some reason—some crazy reason—I’ve been under the impression that the older I get, the less valuable I become—as goods on the market (ha ha—I’m off the market. I just think it’s funny to describe myself as goods because I abhor that mentality). All the cultural notions about youth and value and beauty and value that I thought hadn’t touched me, are slowly rising to the surface and secretly turning me into this bitter, surly monster of a girl. Eureka, I’ve discovered it. I thought I was just sick of the stereotypical indie films, but really, I’m just scared of getting old—and getting older hasn’t been much of an issue. You can ignore it pretty damn easy until you’re about twenty-six. Once you hit twenty-seven, though, watch out.

I’m just thankful for other friends, like Jason, and Stoker’s sister, who turn twenty-nine before me. It’s nice to compare myself to one or two people and come up chronologically younger than they are. Lord knows it gets discouraging to always and forever be perfectly four and a half years older than Stoker. Though I keep him around for his youthful beauty and nothing else (ha! kidding), he gets a kick out of cruelly rubbing in the age difference, in the sweetest way possible.

As for the films Little Miss Sunshine (B) and Broken Flowers (C-), I think my criticism comes from experience, which comes from growing up, and also from being tired of the same thing—world-weariness. I look to entertainment as a reprieve from the drudgery of ordinary life. Not that I don’t enjoy an ordinary life. I do. But don’t audiences want to feel transformed when they watch a movie? How can I feel transformed when I’m thinking, oh yeah, that’s perfect, every character is having a life-altering experience on this road trip. That’s believable.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Shawn Hornbeck: What IS Surprising is Everyone Else

What gets me is that everyone is so surprised when a kidnapped child is held captive in broad daylight, when the child could easily run away. You know, people get suspicious, like “why wouldn’t the kid go for help when he could?”

First of all, remember being eleven years old. Need your memory jogged? That’s easy enough, all you have to do is look at a bunch of kids at the mall or elsewhere. How are they behaving? Like kids, which is to say, kind of dumb, like they don’t get anything. They’re insecure, they’re awkward, they’re unsure of their place. They’re pretty much still a child. But they’re getting old enough to understand some things. When I was eleven, I was in fifth, maybe sixth grade. At the time I thought I was the shit. I look back now and I think, holy shit. I was so vulnerable and small. I can’t believe my mom let me walk home from school every day. Someone could have taken me so easily.

But my mom was really with it. A world-champion worrier, she made us call her at work as soon as we got home, and if we were late doing that, she was calling us. All afternoon we were allowed to call her over just about anything. If I felt like it, I could call my mom and complain about Dani’s unrighteous dictatorship. And I did, all the time.

The other thing she did that was strange to me at the time was make me memorize her calling card, and also how to call her collect. She told me that if anyone ever took me against my will and told me that if I ran away or called her or went to another adult for help, they’d kill me or my mom, I was to try to get help anyway. I was to run away at the first chance I got.

Now, I know that sounds crazy, because some kidnapper might have killed me if I had tried to get away. But what are the odds? I mean, honestly, what’s a kidnapper going to do with a child? Generally one of two things and I don’t think I need to name them*. Well okay, I’ll name one of them: they’re going to sell the child on the black market. Now, I don’t really know what that means, but my mom occasionally threatened selling me to the gypsies when I was bad, and I assume that translates to the black market. I’ve named one, you can figure out the second.

So anyway. You remember what it was like to be eleven. Now use your imagination and pretend you’re an eleven-year old, who has just been pulled into a car by a stranger and the stranger is taking you lord knows where. And they hurt you. And verbally abuse you and scare you. It’s a few days later and now you can go outside, but they tell you if you tell anyone
anything that’s happened, they’ll kill you or your parents. So, what do you do? You’re eleven, do you even want to talk to a stranger? The stranger might be twenty times worse than the guy who took you. Can you trust anyone?

I know, it’s crazy. Can you believe these kidnapped kids? Let’s make a leap here, can you believe those moronic women who don’t leave their abusive husbands? How can they be silent when they’re being pummeled by someone who’s supposed to love them (and sometimes does, supposedly)? Another leap: can you believe those idiots in Communist China, or the former Communist U.S.S.R.? I mean, how can they stay in a country where they have no rights? Why don’t they flee? Why don’t they sneak out? I’m sure they could get away when no one was looking.

Okay, so maybe the last one is too much of a stretch, but the point remains the same: people, even adults, have fragile minds. We can easily begin to believe we’re worthless, that we deserve punishment, that we shouldn’t defend ourselves and our rights, that we have no rights, that Communist Russia is better than Switzerland (and anyway, we can’t get to Switzerland, we’re trapped, really, we are), and that Michael Devlin’s apartment is safer than running away.y \\

Why wouldn’t an eleven-year old boy run away? Better ask why an entire country would allow one man -- one evil dictator -- to continue to rule. That’s what I really can’t understand, because I completely get why a boy would be afraid to get help from a stranger after enduring any amount of abuse, most notably, the violation of your very freedom and trust in the world.

And if parents were wary, maybe they’d tackle the kidnapping issue with their children before someone else has a chance to impress their delicate minds with lies and threats. I don’t know for certain, but I feel pretty strongly that if someone had taken me, I would have tried to get free because of what my mom told me: go for help when you get the chance.**

*Because your’re not stupid, contrary to what Oprah might think. Why the hell did she have to get Shawn Hornbeck’s parents to publicly announce that he was sexually abused by Devlin on national television? Is that going to help him? Poor kid.
**My overall derisive tone is mainly directed at the suspicious reporters in the

Friday, January 12, 2007

Zombies on Cell Phones

On the way to work this morning, I thought to myself, the good thing about morning traffic is that people aren’t on their cell phones. It’s too early to call anyone for a chat. This logic involved other unfounded logic, such as that people jump immediately on the cell phone right after work, on the way home in thick traffic, because they haven’t been able to talk to their kids, spouse, parents, friend, dog, or cat, all day. It’s understandable. Plus the evening drive home is so time-consuming, a person might as well pass that time multi-tasking. You know what I mean? It makes sense.

So, if my logic is like that, why the average moron on the road is talking on their stupid cell phone as they drive home after work, then it would only make sense that they most likely wouldn’t be on the phone during morning traffic. Who’s up at that time of day that you’d want to b.s. with anyway? Anyone other than Stoker who I might chat with on the way home from work is in a different time zone and therefore still in bed as I drive to work.

As the thought crossed my mind—it’s too early to call anyone for a chat, I won’t see a million people on cell phones—within the very first car I looked into, on the freeway, was a man with his blasted cell phone pressed against his ear. Ha, I thought to myself. What a bastard. Who the hell is he talking to? And then I thought, if only that cop in front of cell-phone man could pull him over and give him a ticket. If only there was a law against talking
on your cell phone without a headset while driving. As I passed the cop, I glanced at him and HE WAS ON A CELL PHONE TOO.

I’m not kidding. It’s the freaking plague. I have it too, don’t think I’m saying I’m immune to it. It’s gotten to where I can’t stand it, though. I can’t stand to be annoyed by how slow another car is going, you know, when the speed limit is 65 mph and some jerk is going forty-five, IN THE FAST LANE. Or I’m waiting at a light behind another driver, waiting to turn left or some other obnoxious maneuver like that, and the car in front of me waits thirty seconds before pulling forward to make the turn, and by that time the light has turned yellow and I’ve nearly missed my chance. That’s thirty extra seconds I could have been at home, putting on my pajamas or feeding the cats or something more important than waiting at a light and battling other drivers for supremacy on the road.

Yes, people drive slower to be safer while they’re on the cell phone, but they also piss off everyone else who isn’t on their cell phone. If we’re all honest about it, we’re not capable of holding a cell phone up to our ears and shifting gears and turning on a blinker and changing lanes safely and being aware of the million other things happening while driving – AND conducting a meaningful conversation with someone not in the car with us. Haven’t you noticed the zombie-look of a cell phone talker-driver? I have. Twice I’ve nearly been hit by people talking on their cell phones and driving. One time a guy ran a red light while I was beginning to make a left turn. As he was gliding through the intersection, he turned and looked at me with this glazed expression like he was trying to grasp what he’d just done. I don’t know if would have realized he’d run a red light if I hadn’t honked my ass off.

Can you tell this subject infuriates me?

Though I’m not immune to it myself, I’m consciously making an effort to NOT call people on my cell phone while I drive. And believe me, it’s difficult because I no longer have a stereo in my truck. Yeah, someone stole it last August and Stoker and I haven’t replaced it. So sometimes I get lonely, but usually I’m pretty content to think about things and listen to the sound of the road underneath my tires – an unusually loud sound with a gaping hole in the dashboard. Sometimes I’ll feel compelled to call one of my many friends just to shoot the bull (by nature, I believe, humans are multi-taskers), but I push the urge aside when I look into the hundreds of cars surging around me and see the bastards driving cars with half-their brains, like drunkards and soulless fiends. In that state, the majority of them change lanes without signaling or checking blind spots, so I have to be extra vigilant in defending my little piece of the road.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Does This Mullet Match My Moustache?

Last night I dreamed that I had a mullet. I tried to cut it, in the dream, while looking in the mirror. Some of the clippings fell onto my face and made a moustache. Great, now I have a moustache. A crappy one, too. A scraggly, sorry excuse for a moustache. Surprisingly, I looked like this man I’ve sometimes seen at my church. Need I say: a redneck man? No, I needn’t.

I had a mullet once, in real life. It happened while I lived in Logan, during my post-graduate work. I kept going back to the same stylist, Stephanie (is that a stereotypical stylist name? I think so. Much like Kimberly, Tiffany or Chrissy), for the same haircut, because that’s the kind of girl I am. I find something I like and because I’m not a prissy girl, I stick with it, too lazy and uncomfortable to branch out. The problem was that Stephanie couldn’t have a real conversation with me as she cut my hair and pay close attention to what she
was doing. Never mind the inherent fact that stylists in general can’t have decent conversations, Stephanie was, at the very least, a stylist with whom I didn’t have to resort to the initial banal conversation required to get through a hair cut. She knew enough about me to make it so I didn’t have to engage in the silly pleasantries of a first meeting. And I knew enough pointless information about her.

So we’d talk about her daughters and her ridiculous boyfriend while she snipped the hair around my ears. We’d talk about my pathetic love-life as she took a bit off my ends. And we’d talk about my sorry love-life as she thinned my “layers.” And viola! A mullet. But I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a mullet. At least, not until I got home and styled it myself, which is to say, not styling it (how can I be as beautiful as I am EVEN though I never style my hair or wear make-up? It’s called natural beauty, folks. I have it, yes I do, heh heh heh. Beautiful even with a mullet, but that doesn’t mean I want one). And to be honest, it took a few months before it dawned on me what Stephanie had created through her constant, ignorant snipping.

Now, if I had gone into the salon and asked Stephanie to give me a mullet, I couldn’t blame her. I know that. But if I said “a little off the sides, trim the layers, blah blah blah,” then, isn’t it Stephanie’s responsibility to NOT give me a mullet? And if it’s starting to look like a mullet, doesn’t the burden of telling me that it’s beginning to resemble a mullet rest on her shoulders? I think so.

OR, say Stephanie wants to get rid of me. She’s sick of me as a client. Tired, oh so weary of hearing about my pathetic love life. What’s a stylist to do? A good way to get rid of a client is to casually, slowly give them a mullet. Each month, take off a little here, a little there. The next month, same thing. Gradually, the stylist shapes a mullet and is ultimately blameless. Right? That’s what happened with Stephanie and me. I’m not sure if she was hoping to lose me as a client, but it was inevitable. My friends had started noticing that I had a mullet—or at least, they didn’t protest when I joked about my mullet, and silence is a form of consent. And what can you do at that point? Change your stylist? I’m sure as hell not going to tell Stephanie that she needs to do something different—I have a mullet for pete’s sake! So I went to Derek, the male stylist who wanted to date me. Date my stylist? A bear’s ass!

Anyway, thankfully I no longer have a mullet, but maybe it’s time for a haircut.