Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Staying Entertained

It’s been way too long. My list below is not inspiring me. And heck, I haven’t even watched “Beaches of Agnes” yet, or the rest of Season 1 of True Blood. Or anything on my DVR but Project Runway. Can we just admit I’m not a TV person?

Saw “Lieutenant of Inishmore” at the Taper. Really bloody. Good performances, but the play struck me as just a further strike at “Playboy of the Western World” for some reason. And a little obvious, I guess. Aside from the grossout, the most I got was that violence is senseless and eats itself, consuming all. Yes, they killed people ON STAGE, which is a trick, but aside from the horror, I didn’t get much from it, except sad. Maybe that’s the point, but from the laughs I don’t think so. I couldn’t get in the frame to take it lightly.

That’s been it for theater, except for the light “LA Tool and Die Live” at the Celebration. Full disclosure: Sean Abley, who wrote and directed it, is a friend of mine. So I really couldn’t help but love it. It’s smart, silly, fast and fun. And I hope it does very well for him.

I did see “Eat Pray Love” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” this weekend. I liked EPL for what it was – it reads less like the complete Cinderella story it comes off as. I wonder if some of the flack Gilbert gets and the movie is getting is that it seems selfish for a woman to just take off and say she wants to do things for herself. A roaming man is Jack Kerouac, but a roaming woman is selfish. Dunno. Part of it probably is that self-discovery can be masterful and identifiable in a book, yet look self-obsessed when boiled down to actions.  For instance, a favorite moment in the book is when she reaches the "blue pearl" meditation state of all feeling one only when she is given a job to be her true, chatty self. It's the summation of the India section in some ways, and it's her sitting in the back of a room in the movie.  And bummed they didn't keep the thing about the Richard Jenkins character having open heart surgery because he kept praying for his heart to open. But it was a good travelogue. I like the cast, and enjoyed it.

Scott Pilgrim made me laugh, and it’s a great gimmick making it a cross between a graphic novel and a video game, with the attendant graphics, sounds, and time changes. The film got a little long for me, and dragged a bit when the gimmick wore off, but I did like it. Kieran Culkin is great as the gay best friend who is the most self-assured guy in any room. Any film that ends with Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman dueling to the death is quite the nerdgasm.

I went to visit friends in Idyllwild up in the San Jacinto mountains as well. Very beautiful, small town. I enjoyed it, and sneezed a lot. I’ve been reading Noah Levine’s “Dharma Punx” a memoir about his recovery from drugs and path to Buddhism (it’s a fascinating coupling with “An Unquiet Mind” that I’m reading at the same time). It’s an interesting story, but as I was sitting out reading it on the patio on Sunday morning, I just thought to put the book down and actually meditate outdoors. Of course, a fly buzzed in my ear the moment I started. But it was so beautiful, and there were those loud sounds of nature – if you ever just want to sit and do a mindfulness meditation, outdoors is the best place to be aware of all that’s happening around you – distant chainsaw, then stopping; a barking dog; birdsong; an insect that sounds as if an electric wire is being snapped. And right as my timer was going off for 20 minutes, Lion, the dog who had been sitting around with me, came up and nudged me in the elbow. It was perfect.

This morning I had two MRI’s and that was an exercise in mindfulness – not to feel claustrophobic, and to not move. I asked between them if the radiation was a problem, and the technician told me it was all magnets, and that there is zero harm. “Well, I can’t say zero harm, “ he said, “but no harm. In training we had to practice on each other so I had one a week. It’s magnets. It’s good for you. Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but they’ve been doing it forty years and no problems yet.”

I don’t know if you’ve had one, but it’s a very loud swinging magnet. There were about six sequences each 3-5 minutes long. There would be the initial buzz beep, then some taps, then the long sequence. It sounds like some Phillip Glass punk band – loud loud sound like some hitting an electric base string amped up, then some taps like testing a microphone, and then setting into a long rhythmic assault. The bass line changes, and that was entertaining. There was the machine gun with the occasional high pitch whoosh. There was a fast four count of two tones, one that sounded to me like “emer emer, emer, emer” and a slightly higher pitched “I, I, I, I” so when sounding together it was like “emer, emer, I, I” – MRI. Then there was the one that started sounding like an enormous male voicing “bah bah bah bah bah” over and over into a very loud microphone. Over that one there was a little bell rhythm that would sound above on about the 3 count and then the 2 (I couldn’t quite count since it was pretty fast, but blessedly regular) like bedebedebeep pause, pause, bedebeep”. Jazzy. Once it became clear that it was too loud to even think about meditation, I just went into the sound. And each time it stopped there was a tick, tock, like a clock but twice as fast. I can see why those electric base lines can be so satisfying. And the overtones were nifty to pick out.

It’s best to be entertained when you can be.


Elizabeth said...

Um--I was all prepared to talk about the books and movies, to tell you that "nerdgasm" might be my new favorite word and then you slipped in the passage about your MRIs? Ummmmm-- what's going on? I hope that all is well.

Criticlasm said...

Oh, it's all good - just some hip stuff that is probably arthritis/bursitis. Just a pain but will hopefully be allevaited soon.

Glad you liked nerdgasm - lol.

Man. Hat. In. said...

I felt EPL was flat and insincere. One did not feel transported and/or inspired IMO. It felt backlit and created. I didn't buy Javier and Julia. They did not seem in love at all.

I do love your notion that a man vs. a woman re: self-discovery. But her "I've never been to me" rant to her publisher about always having been with men seems like her own doing and now she is complaining.

It is hard to care for a protagonist who is white, well-educated and somewhat solvent for some reason. And that is what creates the two-facedness as "we" all secretly dug the book and related to it, but thought of her as self-involved and whiny even though that is what "we" are. I saw "we" meaning me, of course.

And she got money from a publisher to go on this journey. No "On the Road" there.

Criticlasm said...

@Patrick - that's true, she did get money from her publisher, but also from selling her house that was bought with money she earned from working. So, no, it's not as romantic as Kerouac just hauling off and driving around, but I think it's interesting that she did do this after her life fell apart and was a choice she made to do with her connections from work and her skills, and somehow everyone is reading that as "entitled white lady". I don't think that portion is as clear in the movie, and my comparison is that there is some congratulation for men taking off and just being "on the road" whereas some of the backlash against EPL is "how dare she, she's so entitled" when the money came out of years of work and the book came out of genuine pain.

And then everyone can also say Kerouac died and is somehow a romantic tragic figure like James Dean, but she came out on the other side with a lover and a successful book, so that pisses people off. We love our fairy tales on the page, I think, more than we do in real life.