There are certain habits I’ve developed over the past few years, moving around Los Angeles and finishing college. One is to fire up my copy of Real Genius, the film that’s become my favorite in the 33 years since it debuted. I find a weird comfort in it, a silly but meaningful story that contains numerous nuggets of wisdom I apply to life. It also centers around school, an institution I’ve drawn back to again and again in my life. Again, calming and comforting.
There’s another film I keep watching over and over. Grosse Pointe Blank, with John Cusack as an assassin-for-hire questioning his path. I tend to put this one on when I wonder how my society is moving, whether its direction is one I think I can help turn—or not. In it, the protagonist returns home, rather than being away from it, and tries to solve an internal puzzle, rather than an external one. It also has lots of violence and several deaths.
The films have something in common, besides lots of extremely wordy, quotable dialogue: a single female main character (though not the lead) who remains capable but vulnerable, uncompromising but open to possibility.
To segue, several former co-workers, my friends, were trapped in a hostage situation this afternoon when a man with a gun ran into their store after a police chase. He shot another of their co-workers, who subsequently died of the wound. It’s strange to watch a film that has so much shooting in it after hearing and reading about such a thing. It feels strange to me. I don’t know why it doesn’t disturb me as much. Perhaps because it’s such fake violence, movie violence. Real violence is sudden and terrible. It often comes with no warning and no logic.
What I get out of GPB is a sense that as Martin Blank is engaged in his existential crisis, so too am I. The only thing I can do is step back from a spiral of despair and disbelief and think about a bigger picture, re-examine my own path to see how I can further changes out there from examination inside. I feel helpless, and some of these comforts keep me from turning hopeless. They’re a weird kind of jolt, an attempt to spark, in the words of Minnie Driver’s character,
DEBI: You know what you need? MARTIN: What? DEBI: Shakubuku. MARTIN: You wanna tell me what that means? DEBI: It’s a swift, spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever.
Which is paraphrasing, but not far from the actual usage. It’s a good thing, I think, to have comforts and refuges. But we have to use them to get to a new place, not just return to the old ones.
It’s Friday? Well, Then, Let’s Have Some Links, Shall We?
I’m preparing to move everything I own and everything I am across the country. It’s only one state, but that first leg north is a big one. So, while changing homes may not be quite as stressful as pop psych has cracked it up to be, it does feel traumatic in some ways. I distract myself, which you probably already could tell.
Punch Brothers released a new album today, and I’m playing it right now. If you like Nickel Creek or bluegrass or Chris Thile, you’ll like this.
New Yorkers got a marvelous bonus this week when library card holders also gained free access to local museums, and they booked the hell out of them. Here’s hoping that success spreads to other cities.
News and social media can wear you down. There’s nothing for it but to step back a bit, or completely, if you can. Unless you’re a journalist, there’s not much point in staying up-to-the-minute on the relentless news cycle. You have things to do. This is good right here, a real slowdown for the mind: The Last Ambient Hero
Case in point, so many internet things that are amazing and have criminally few eyeballs and earholes attached to them. I understand the magic of discovering treasures that are meaningful to you. I’m sad that it’s such a widespread impulse to resist sharing those things with everyone else. It’s the Daffy Duck mentality, a throwback to post-infancy, when we desired everything for ourselves, before we learned empathy.
One of the reasons I’m continuing to work on this blog is to share those things, to resist the hoarding impulse. Because it’s in the sharing that we grow, it’s in the mutual delight of discovery that we support and enhance each other. This is a better way to live.
All that to say, watch the latest BJ Rubin show. It’s full of music that’s so far out on the fringe it’s fuzz floating away on the breeze. It’s weird, it’s unique, and the world needs so much more of that right now.
You Need Distractions Today, I Can Tell, and Here Are Three Short but Amazing Things
It’s a part of most retail jobs that employees have to do certain chores that may be gross or filthy. Cleaning bathrooms and floors, dealing with trash, wiping down fixtures and windows. These can seem demeaning, and I’ve thought so on more than one occasion.
They aren’t, though.
I was thinking about their place in work of all kinds, and it’s not just that you have to do them, I think they contribute, weirdly, to a bigger picture.
They’re small cogs in a larger machine, just like you, if you’re one of those workers. But you have to do the same kind of maintenance at your own house, and there’s no shortage of cleanup in art, either. These tasks relate.
They also interrelate. An attitude of reverence toward your tools and tasks carries over to the important work, the art itself. Working a job is valuable training in maintaining the harmony of everything unseen in the art you make. It supports and frames it. It makes it possible to forget about everything but the art itself.
Relating Travel Experiences in the Internet Age Isn’t the Mystery It Once Was
[…] I think the main thing is I consider it no fun at all to tell a person about something spectacular when that person has already read about it on the internet and believes they already know all about it. In other words, it’s no fun for it to go something like this: “So tell me about the black beaches!” “Tell me about the Neapolis.” “Tell me about the mud baths.” “Tell me about the temple of Zeus.” “Tell me about the piazza marconi in Agrigento where, at 1 pm, the boys parade around on their Vespas like bees circling the hive.” And I’d say, “Wait a minute, how could you possibly know about that you knob gobbler?” It’s not that I feel thunder being stolen, because that’s not possible. I’m here, and there’s no comparison between exposure to facts and experience, it’s just fun being taken out of it for me.