Thursday, April 11, 2013

Health Report Update

Well, now I'm also in a suicide intervention program.

Apparently I'm so low-functioning that I'm right on the cusp of having to be hospitalized, but the people that run the program think I'm also aware enough that I can instead do an outpatient safety program which involves phone check-ins and more work on attempting to manage my emotional responses.

What I've come to understand is that I used thoughts of suicide as a sort of emotional coping mechanism, which is really unhealthy because it's progressed from the abstract stage to a stage where I'm now showing some specificity in planning. I have poor enough impulse control that my therapist was worried enough to immediately get me into that program. I'm at a moderate risk level, according to today's disposition paperwork. That's worse than I would have guessed, which shows me that my irrationality and the frequent difficulty I have working through emotions has actually progressed in the last few years.

Something else to work on. My therapist says I'm progressing at a good rate, and they only recommended four initial weeks of suicide intervention, so maybe I'll be able to break this unhealthy compensation method and replace it with something healthier. I just want to manage this. I'm not worried I'm going to kill myself. But I have to stop thinking of it as some sort of way out.

It's work, but it's work I have to do.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Film Week

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

GLORIA (1980)
I suppose it's an inherently corny premise, but I really enjoyed this flick. I'm not usually a fan of John Cassavetes as a filmmaker, I'll be honest, but there's a sort of character-driven tightness to this movie that I really appreciated. It's basically "Little Miss Marker" dressed up as a late-seventies crime movie, and I think that made it work enough for me--that, plus the tightly constructed plot and structure, and well-written characters. I wasn't ever expecting to like this movie, and I did, a great deal, particularly Rowlands' performance. ****

This one was a bit all over the place... it tells the story of the Gospel of Matthew, but in 1973 New York with a bunch of hippies. Actually, they seem less like hippies to me than like the world's most insufferable street theater troupe. A lot of it annoyed me, but every time I would get too annoyed to go on, another one of Stephen Schwartz' great, sincere songs would come up and it would keep me going. See, the thing about the Jesus story is that I have at times found myself deeply moved by it. Not because of the religion or the church or anything like that--I'm still an atheist there. But because it's a philosophical story about love and understanding and caring in an environment of oppression and corruption. That part of it, I'm often moved by, and if it's handled as a story about sacrifice and not a moralistic finger-wag or a snuff film, I'll get wrapped up in it. The focus to this story is love and caring and humanity, and--particularly filtered through Victor Garber's able, genuine performance--that's what came through a lot of the hippie drag and silly voices, and in the end I was moved. ***1/2

Saul Bass' fascinating, partially-animated short film about the creative impulse is hard to describe. It's on YouTube right now, though, so you can see it for yourself if you're in the mood. ****

BULLY (2011)
I don't question the sincerity of this documentary, but I do wonder what its purpose is. It basically just shows us some kids who have been affected horribly by bullying--a couple of them killed themselves--to the point where it has completely changed who they are. But it also treats bullying as something that is unstoppable and insoluble. It spends a lot of time with victims, and they all have sympathetic stories that will break your heart. But, jeez, why not actually talk to some bullies and at least ask them why they do what they do? Where did they learn it from? Hate is taught, not inborn. Ask the people in that Oklahoma town who stopped talking to one family when their daughter came out of the closet why they have no room in their world for that. I don't need to see a kid cry and talk about how he wishes he could hurt people as much as they've hurt him--I'm already too aware what it's like to feel that. Instead, maybe ask people why tolerance is beneath them. **1/2


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Ed Levitt 1916-2013

Ed Levitt, a key contributor to both the Golden Age and Cartoon Modern eras of animation, has passed away at the age of 96. Cartoon Brew has a nice post about him here. Not only was he background artist on (in my opinon) Disney's three best films (Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi), but he also helped to design A Charlie Brown Christmas, which I consider one of the best-designed animations of all time for its spare backgrounds, wonderful color scheme, and soft quiet alone. Thanks for that.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Annette Funicello 1942-2013

When I was about 7, I think, we got the Disney Channel. They used to show all the episodes of the original Mickey Mouse Club, and it was one of the things I watched every day after school. Ever since then, I've always been at least a little bit in love with Annette Funicello. That's really all I have to say. You already know how special she was, if you were a little bit in love with her since you were kids, too.


:: "32" is a very, very accurate parody of Taylor Swift's "22," even for a guy. Eh, I may not be as young and spry as I once was, but at least I can have cake for dinner whenever I want.

:: Disney and Pixar have officially announced Finding Dory, the Finding Nemo sequel. My first thought: who the hell cares? Pixar's been diminishing returns for some time now, I think, and its increasing reliance on sequels, prequels, and whatevers is getting tiresome. I'm not excited about their work anymore. At least when Disney was making endless unnecessary sequels, it (usually) had the good taste not to ask us to treat it like a real night at the (overpriced) movies. Can't wait to nap through Finding Nemo's Car Keys.

:: HBO is doing a film called Bone Wars. It's a historical "sophisticated comedy" (how they're describing it) about the real-life Great Dinosaur Rush: the 1890s feud between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh to discover and name as many dinosaur species as they could (sometimes through less-than-ethical means). Steve Carell and James Gandolfini are going to star. There is apparently no writer yet, but there needs to be one: Paul T. Riddell. My old mentor (and editor when I reviewed DVDs for the old crappy Sci-Fi Channel website) had, at a couple of points, mentioned wanting to write a film or a novel based on this great story in history, and I would dearly love to see that dream come true, simply because I always wanted to see that damn movie! Paul is exactly who I thought of when I read that announcement, and his writing could make for one of HBO's few, let's say, less forgettable movie-of-the-week-ish original films.

:: I'll try to make this my only political comment this time out, but: President Obama: "The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty." I'm not a hundred percent sure he knows who Margaret Thatcher actually was, because he's not talking about the Thatcher I'm familiar with... Yeah, yeah, she broke a glass ceiling. That makes up for everything, I guess. Well, at least she and Reagan are both rotting now...

The best description of Thatcher's legacy that I read today came from this Firedoglake retrospective: "Margaret Thatcher’s legacy left to Britain and the world is a burning animosity for the very idea of social responsibility and a promotion of the most predatory unregulated form of finance capitalism."

:: I watch Game of Thrones and I figure King Joffrey is pretty much what Justin Bieber is like on a personal level.

:: I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about the news coverage of someone taking pictures of Miley Cyrus smoking pot. Every time she smokes pot, there's someone in the media giddily trying to "expose" her or wagging their finger at her or something, and I just honestly don't know why I'm supposed to give a damn if she smokes pot or Justin Bieber smokes pot or any fucking kid in America smokes pot. Who cares? What do we win for making them feel bad about it? Hey, not my kid. I'm not trying to come across like I'm too cool and hip to care, I just really, really don't know what the deal is. Are we just supposed to be gleeful about how we have something over them? How does this affect my life in any way? Wow, young people smoke pot. Thank you for the big social revelation, increasingly-irrelevant-media-and-assorted-wannabes. Let's all giggle about it or something!

Same thing goes for making fun of the Kardashians for having it easy and not having the same perspective as the rest of us on daily problems. If you're scoring cheap ego points for yourself by scoffing at Kim Kardashian just now discovering expectant mother parking at Babies 'R' Us, you have deeper self-esteem problems you need to address, because your life isn't defined by having judgments about celebrities.

And Taylor Swift's relationships, too. I'm not defending these people, I'm just asking: how the hell does this stuff really affect, like, anyone? "I have opinions about the imagined romantic life of someone I've never met" is not a thing that's interesting about you. Why the fuck are we supposed to be obsessed with these things? Because someone trying to make money off our attention tells us we are?

:: I guess what I'm really annoyed with is the way our society is so damn loud all the time about being judgmental and negative and being too cool for how ridiculous everything is. It's why I tune it out more and more every year; because ultimately a lot of blogs and websites (including mine, a lot of times, including in this post, so I'm really not being holier-than-thou here) is less talking about stuff because it's interesting or something experienced or something observed and more just screaming these pointless opinions and how much everything sucks. I said nothing original there, I'm just recognizing more and more that the internet is one of my main triggers of impatience.

:: Totally anti-everything I just said, though: Jeremy Irons can go to hell. Legalizing gay marriage will lead to more father-son incest? What planet do you live on? How do people seriously hold beliefs that are so childish and stupid that they'd almost be charming if they weren't so destructive? I just... I just can't with this.

:: Wow, I can't believe how much I'm enjoying Marvel's sort-of-reboot of its cosmic stories. Never my favorite area of Marvel Comics, but Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, and Thanos Rising are all really fun. I love how they're tying this together.

:: No real opinion on the newest attempt to get rid of Jay Leno and replace him with a new host, except that the format is dead and not fun and I'm not sure why it hasn't been phased out entirely at this point. Not for me. Not for decades now. I think that era's long over.

:: Anyone else totally in the tank for Jinkx Monsoon on this season of Drag Race?

:: I think one day history will look back at these days of the internet and be horrified how what it mostly did was reveal the rampant, thoughtless, barely-containable ignorance, hate and stupidity that the human race mainly deals in. When you're a kid, you're told that not everyone seems as awful and fuckdiculous as you think they are, but really, they kind of are. There are a lot of them. And they always seem to run everything. Like the country.

Anyway, this. It's done in a funny way, but those sure are a lot of hateful comments. Every time I read someone talking about why can't we just get our shit together and explore space already, I think of things like this and cynically say to myself in answer, well, probably because we live in a world where there are people who think that calling a three-year-old girl a dumb cunt in response to something that doesn't remotely affect their lives in any way is perfectly rational.

Am I pessimistic about humanity? Very much. But not actively. That way lies too much frustration.

:: This Judge Death cosplay is stunning. So it's not all bad news.

:: Jeez... like so many of my Random Thoughts posts, this one started out fine and got angrier and angrier. I'm really trying to end this one on a positive note, but nothing's coming to me.

Oh, wait, I just saw this guy:

Watching that makes me hella happy. Hella happy, indeed.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Song of the Week: "Oh Yeah"

I just had Roxy up almost exactly two months ago. I usually like to have a longer period of time between outings by the same artist or band, but sunny Sunday mornings are just perfect for Roxy Music's prettier songs. 1980, from the sublime Flesh and Blood album.