Monday, November 6, 2017

on my mind this week

1. Bladerunner 2049/Arrival
I saw these almost back to back. Not on purpose or anything, because I'm dumb about movies. Just a happy coincidence. I wonder if it would've been as obvious, had I watched Arrival when it came out instead, how similar the two are? Maybe. I strongly preferred Arrival. In fact I'm not sure I've liked a big huge movie that much since World War Z. (Or maybe since John Wick? When was that, even?) It could've been so much better, though, which I suppose is my general feeling on movies. My totally uninformed, completely made up take on Villeneuve is that Big Hollywood ruins his stuff a little. These two movies at least seemed subtle with a sporadically very heavy hand, and I'm just assuming that's someone else's fault. It just felt like the kind of thing that maybe someone else fucked up. Those overwrought M. Night Shyamalan endings, the superfluous action, the corny flourishes, etc. strike me as the result of meetings. But who knows. I'm too lazy to actually google this and figure it out.

Arrival was the better script, but it also benefitted from having a much more talented supporting cast. How do you surround an actor like Ryan Gosling with the likes of Jared Leto and Harrison Ford and expect that to come out OK? Though honestly the Ford Problem was both inevitable and handled about as well as it could've been, all things considered.

My favorite Gosling movie is Drive. Is that everyone's favorite? I like how different those two Gosling characters are even though neither of them say much.

2. How bad should I feel for going to the rapey movie theater?
On Halloween I saw Hellraiser 3 at that sexual pervert theater chain's Brooklyn outpost. On one hand, I didn't feel so great about going to the rapey movie theater, but OTOH that was the place that was showing Hellraiser 3 on Halloween. Turns out it's literally the nicest theater I've ever been to, holy shit. I would maybe go there every day if I were local. It has table service for every seat?? That wasn't that intrusive?? In the minus column it also contained what was possibly the dumbest bar I've ever been to in my life. I think it was supposed to look like the Mutter Museum but it reminded me of the time my sister and I got lost in New York and we got so hungry that we ended up eating sliders at one of those Jekyll and Hyde chains. Also the movie theater had advertised free fake blood and we couldn't find any fake blood, much less free. One of my friend's friends made this totally excellent bloody pumpkinhead costume, pictured below. (Fortunately he brought his own fake blood from home.) I thought he was supposed to be the Headless Horseman, but apparently not? In any case it was a great costume.

Also hung out with some guy who said, in total seriousness, Bush did 9/11. New York is such a parody of itself, but maybe that's every city.

3. Eventually it's your pervert. 
Everyone's mad at perverts right now (including me, but that's part of my whole thing), and inevitably Twitter (re-)dredged up some passages from Matt Taibbi's dumb book he wrote with Mark Ames when they were in some Russian frat together. I think the person who dredged it up this time around was Laura Hudson, Brave Defender of feminism and, uh, Chris Sims. Hahaaa. I mean, number one, I'm very sorry, but if you're friends with Chris Sims, I am judging you - not for moral reasons, but for coolness reasons, because that guy strikes me as a giant loser. But number two, being friends with Chris Sims doesn't mean you have to defend Chris Sims when he does something super gross? Not that hard.

Or is it. Because my first thought back whenever I heard about Taibbi being a pervert the first time around (approx. two "Matt Taibbi's a terrible misogynist" cycles ago) was: oh brother. I have some patience for the things people wrote when they were really young; that's part of it. I feel like you can read those passages and see very plainly how desperately those guys wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson. (Hot gonzo journalism tip: when writer types write a whole lot about getting blown all the time, that usually means they're not getting blown, ever.) But the other thing is that Taibbi is one of these writers who has a whole complex with machismo, which I take to be a totally separate, if vaguely adjacent, thing with regard to misogyny. It's a little pathetic but ultimately sort of harmless and secondary to what a great writer he is, and I feel that way about many writers. Maybe most, even, though more so in prose than comics. I found Taibbi's second apology compelling, and in alignment with everything I had sort of assumed anyway. His mistake, in my opinion, was in not apologizing sooner. People are so stingy with apologies. I think about Gabe Delahaye's piece about apologizing all the time. It's one of the most entirely correct things I've ever read.

I was thinking about all this again lately, but this time it wasn't quite so easy or automatic. Maybe because everyone's talking about perverts more than usual. Maybe because I had been writing that thing about Eddie Berganza. Maybe because Taibbi actually acknowledged the controversy this time around, maybe all of that. There's a certain convenience to thinking that some writer who I like is #actually fine and more or less good, and finding someone like Robert Crumb, who I find morally, physically, and artistically repulsive, to be a total fucking degenerate. Any time I comment on the "bad" guys, I've at least tried to interrogate my own assumptions because I think that's the right thing to do. This is the first time in recent memory I've done that for a "good" guy. Anyway I think it's a thorny and imperfect, but healthy, process to interrogate your assumptions and biases most particularly when whatever alleged pervert holds a special place in your heart is under the microscope. Still feeling pretty good about Taibbi and look forward to reading his new book on Eric Garner.

4. Winter self-care plan
Where I live really takes my depressive personality to the next level during daylight savings time. For at least six months of the year this place is a cold sunless hell and unfortunately I believe in neither God nor hygge. This year I'm making a special effort that includes going to the previously unthinkable lengths of digging my Happy Lamp out of the storage closet and actually using it. I think it works but it requires waking up at sunrise (at least according to some sleep quiz I took), which goes against my beliefs. I'm going to try to use it while reading in bed (instead of at my desk, like I've done in the past) because I feel like that seems like a better way to start the day than not answering my email while staring into a very bright light.

Other things that have historically worked for me are vitamin D supplements and Sleepytime Extra tea, which doesn't taste good but works better than anything else I've tried. I've tried a lot.

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