Saturday, March 16, 2013


Happy Birthday, Ellen.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kermit the Frog's Tribute to Ken Wilber

Steve Whitmire is a big fan of Ken Wilber's Integral Theory.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Veronica Mars Kickstarter

I kind of checked out for a while on the internet yesterday; by the time I heard that Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell had set up a Kickstarter to fund a Veronica Mars movie, they had already raised over half their donation goal of $2 million.

Yes, that Veronica Mars movie that Warner Bros. keeps insisting that no one wants to see? Rob and Kristen gave themselves 30 days to see if they could raise $2 million. It took less than 10 hours. Just over a day and it's at $2.5 million and almost 43,000 backers. And these are people that will actually go see the damn thing when it comes out.

I think this is an interesting story for a number of reasons.

First and foremost: Veronica Mars movie!

Second: this is an interesting experiment in crowdsourcing, because it shows you what people actually want to see vs. what studios tell you people want to see. I'll be interested to see what ramifications this has for other projects and for monetizing the depth of interest in other projects. To me, this is like the movie version of what Louis CK has been doing with his concerts: going directly to the fans.

Third: hey, the entertainment news is finally talking about Veronica Mars. Thanks for finally generating interest in the show, media!

The Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter Project set out to prove that fans of something will pay to see more, and it's proven that, and I think that's the real triumph here. And nearly 43,000 marshmallows are going to get something out of this. The fund is still open here; there's no ceiling on it, so people can keep donating. Look at the stuff you get for different levels of donation--almost all of that stuff is gone. That's how quickly and rabidly the fans want more Veronica.

Hey, I want this movie. I'm very, very cash-poor, so I only kicked in a dollar, which is the minimum donation, but it felt wrong not to kick in something, because I want this movie so damn bad. Plus I didn't actually start watching the show until it hit DVD, so it's not like I was trying to help it stay on the air.

Warner Bros. has agreed to pick up the costs for anything not related to the production of the film, so I guess they're not completely awful. Of course, they're in a no-lose situation now, so it's not like it's a grand gesture. They've been saying for years that no one wants this movie, and they're wrong.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

I had mixed feelings in the lead-up to this; I love Sam Raimi, but my basic fear was that it was going to be another completely joyless piece of shit like Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie. So, I don't know if this makes sense, but I somehow liked this movie more than I thought I would, but didn't love it as much as I'd secretly hoped. It's not a great fantasy movie, but it is a pretty amiable, likable one, with some good acting and some not-so-good acting and excellent special effects. I've heard some people saying the movie highlights James Franco's limitations as an actor, but it's not really the kind of movie where a performer gets to stretch themselves; it's personality over skill in a big, expensive, studio tentpole movie like this. (That said, Michelle Williams is good, and Rachel Weisz really gets into her performance. Mila Kunis... well, her later scenes are the reason she was cast, but she can't carry the dramatic tension of her early scenes, which is a shame as she's potentially the most interesting, conflicted character in the movie.) I also wish that every Oz movie didn't feel the need to slavishly devote themselves to constantly nodding at the 1939 MGM movie, when there's a wealth of material in the original novels that you can go with. It was nice to see the China country depicted for once, and the China Doll is one of the movie's better characters; the special effects give her a lovely marionette quality. Ultimately, I really enjoyed it, but it's not one that's going to stick with me or that I'm going to watch over and over again, like many other Raimi movies. I especially loved the Flying Monkeys (baboons were a great idea; they're big and terrifying), the Emerald City (looking Art Deco, which is actually how I've always pictured it), and Danny Elfman's great score, complimenting Raimi's direction and the editing as opposed to generating every emotion, like in Tim Burton's soulless films, such as the aforementioned complete piece of shit Alice in Wonderland, which, as I've said before, is a complete piece of shit. I'm going with ***1/2, but it's mainly for the special effects, the score, the editing, and Williams and Weisz. Poor Witch of the North got the shaft.

[An aside, spoilers if you think you need them: at the end of the film, the two bad witches get away and James Franco, having faked his death to pretend he's indestructible, becomes the Wizard of Oz. The movie is taking in so much money that Disney and producer Joe Roth want a sequel; it takes place 20 years before The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, so Roth has pooh-poohed the notion of the sequel involving Dorothy or any other familiar characters because there's such a wealth of stories to tell. My opinion? Not really. What else is there to say about a Wizard who has now made himself the prisoner of his throne room and gadgets, and who is supposed to appear dead for the next 20 years? And what's the plot? The witches try to take the Emerald City again, only to fail again? Who cares? They should just make The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and be more true to the book. I'd love to see that. Then again, what I'd really love to see, is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in stop-motion animation. Let's do that, instead. Spoilers over.]

The first of a new series of Mickey Mouse shorts, which you can watch here. It's getting sort of mixed-to-negative reviews, but of course I loved it, not just because of the energy and the charming design of the short itself, but because of the promise it holds for more shorts to come. To me, this kind of thing is much more interesting than the features Disney and Pixar are currently designing. Have you seen the Planes trailer? Go fuck yourself. ****

A riveting political picture that I'm sorry I hadn't seen when it first came out. Joan Allen plays a senator undergoing her confirmation hearing to become Vice President of the United States. As the process begins, there are pictures of her unearthed that appear to show her having group sex at a college party when she was 19 (one of the things the movie doesn't really touch on is that the situation appears more like a date rape than something that happened with sober consent). The film is very much about the ethics of the situation. Allen refuses to comment on the pictures or the innuendo that are dropped at her hearing, feeling that to address them--whether they're true or not--legitimizes them as a valid part of the political process. Much of the wrangling in this film--which plays like a political thriller, and is indeed suspenseful--is not only over the ethical issues and an address of partisan hypocrisy in politics (the film feels very much like a reaction to the then-recent Monica Lewinsky affair), but also the blatant sexism of the situation. Would Allen's sex life be considered relevant to the situation if she were a man? The Contender does an excellent job of making us uncomfortable, sometimes even infuriated at the shifting boundaries of political relevance and a growing hunger to know the details of someone's personal life. Like I said, I'm sorry I didn't see it back in 2000, but seeing it now with 13 years of hindsight and an ever-crumbling ethical structure in the media and in politics, the movie seems much more prescient. An excellent film, and one that's very bold in its willingness to take sides to make its points. ****

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Seven Years After

This is the only picture I actually have of my sister Ellen from the last year of her life; my stepmother put it up on Facebook a few days ago. Today, in 2006, she died of cancer. It's a hard day for me, every year, but less so as time goes on and the joy of her being alive outweighs more and more the pain of her not being here with us anymore. I'm trying to stay in good spirits, because I've been so down lately. And I think if she were here she'd want me to not be so sad all the time.

I miss her. I'm glad she was here. I carry her with me for the rest of my life. And that's not a bad thing.

I Would Watch a Talk Show of This

Also, I need this Blu-Ray.

Also, I wish there was a second season of Life's Too Short and Val was in every episode.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Another Health Report Update

I called the center this morning and they took my information. I talked to someone about the problem I'm having and have always had to varying degrees. She said the person who makes first-time appointments for new patients was off today, and that that person would call me back tomorrow to make my appointment.

I cried on the phone when the woman I talked to asked me the question "Do you have thoughts of harming yourself or others?" and my answer was "Yes." She asked me to clarify--myself or others--and I said myself. She asked how frequently, and I said the truth: on and off since I was 11. She asked how close I'd ever come, and I told her about some of the stuff in my past. She asked when the last time was that I seriously considered it, and I had to tell her the truth: Saturday night. Because when I'm at my lowest low--where I was Saturday night, for reasons I really can't go into because it involves someone else's privacy--I panic and feel like the only real solution I have to all of my problems is that. I think that made her nervous, because I got a call from someone at the center less than an hour later to tell me the earliest appointment they had was for the morning of March 21 and would I like that? So that's when I go in for my first real psychiatric appointment.

I feel more hopeful now, because I know I'm heading towards something potentially helpful. And because they work with the state DHS and are partially charity-funded, they have a sliding scale for people in my position, which is more or less functionally unemployed, dependent on a spouse, and uninsured. So my appointment will only cost me $10, which is a massive, massive relief. The potential cost is one of the things that's been holding me back from pursuing this for a long time. Not even holding me back, but making me feel resigned to never getting help.

It's taken me a long time to get to this point. When I was a kid, I was made to feel like being depressed or sad was overreacting to things, like mental disorders didn't really exist. So that area felt closed off to me for a long, long time. I felt guilty letting this get to me because I felt like it was something I should be able to handle on my own.

Even now I feel like people think I'm making this up or being overdramatic, but I've taken steps to try and control this thing and it seems like the harder I try, the more I have breakdowns or outbursts. It's happened every day for the last five days now. It hasn't happened yet today, but I'm worried it's only a matter of time. It used to at least be every few days, sometimes even a week or so between incidents.

I was very, very nervous and anxious about even calling these people. Now I'm relieved that I did. I need to really understand what's wrong with me. It feels too big for me to grasp without help. It's long since passed the point of being overwhelmed and feeling like a failure for not being able to deal with it. Now it feels like the thing that's going to kill me if I don't get a handle on it. I need help to do that. I need professional help.

I know it can be done if someone shows me how and helps me make sense of this. Remember that period of time when I couldn't even leave the apartment? Or when I couldn't let anyone drive me anywhere? Or I couldn't go out in inclement weather because it terrified me? And just yesterday, I let my mother (of all people--she's one of the people who made me afraid to ride in cars) drive me in the rain to see a movie. And then I felt nervous before the movie started because there were so many people there. But then I relaxed and enjoyed the movie. In 2010 I refused to even set foot out the door, much less set foot in a movie theater with all of those people around.

So it can get better. I know that.

I'm hoping.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Health Report Update

Obviously, I've not been around on this blog much this week.

It's become more clear to me than ever that I'm having some kind of serious, untreated mental problem. Not an emotional problem, but a real mental problem. I'm taking steps to get it checked out. There's a place here in DeKalb that I think I can go to for an evaluation, a place specifically designed for low-income people with no money to their name, like myself. I think I've been hiding from this for a long time and it's time to stop hiding.

Last night, I got on their website and took a mental health screening. I actually clicked "yes" to everything in the generalized anxiety disorder screening and the separate bipolar disorder screening. I know you can't take that as an actual medical diagnosis, but the fact that everything sounded so incredibly familiar--and not just recently, but over the course of my entire life--rings some bells. At the end, it "strongly urged" me to follow up with a mental health professional.

This has been a particularly bad week for lows. Literally every day for the past four days there's been an explosion of some kind. I can't keep living like this. I have to see what I can do, and if it's a disorder, I have to start treating it like a medical condition or a disability instead of what I'm doing now, which is secretly wondering if I've just somehow failed to be well-adjusted and then feeling guilty when I can't control it.

Not that a medical condition would excuse my often shitty behavior. But it would be a new way to approach it and hopefully manage it. I've come to accept that it will be something I have to manage for the rest of my life, but I'm also trying to accept that that means it's something manageable. And if it's a disability, that makes me feel less guilty about being able to control it on my own.

It's hard to admit you need help sometimes. When I was a kid, the idea of depression and anxiety as mental problems was frowned upon, at least in my experience. So I always grew up thinking that I just needed to stop being so upset about everything and learn to get over it.

The other night, my Mom told me that even as a very young child I had wild mood swings: active and happy and agreeable one day, then sullen, impossible and angry the next.

Sounds like a disability to me.

I need to get that confirmed and find out what the hell I can do about it.

Song of the Week: "Lies"

Last week, I had up "Liar, Liar" by the Castaways. In the comments, Roger reminded me that the track was on the greatest compilation of psychedelic music--and therefore one of the greatest music compilations ever--Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968. This is another track that I've always loved that graced that compilation. It's so much of a Beatles soundalike that I know people who think it's actually them. Not bad. Fantastic song.