6 October, 2003

Right, what I could use now is a nice quiet and uneventful weekend. Fortunately, nothing momentous happened this weekend, but I feel like I'm still on some kind of overdrive as if there must be a lot going on. I'm filling the time and keeping busy, but there really isn't anything pressing happening. I don't know how I did it. I really don't know how I managed to fill just about every inch and nook and cranny. It just sort of worked out that way. I mean I want some quiet time. I want to just sit back and do absolutely nothing for 48 hours straight, but it just hasn't happened. I'm not even one of those people who thrives on frantic motion and stress. In fact, I would much rather be a bump on a log. I guess it's just this feeling that I should be doing stuff. I should be keeping busy so I somehow manage to fill the time. I keep myself exhausted. I look at everything I did and everything I wanted to do, and I find that the list of what I wanted is much longer than what I accomplished. This doesn't even cover if I actually wanted to accomplish it or not. In other words, it has been exhausting, and maybe, one of these days I be done with feeling like there is pressing stuff that needs tending and just be able to relax.

Yeah, right, wasn't I just bitching about suicide by exhaustion or something equally absurd like that?

Anyway, I've hit a conundrum. I've been making entertaining progress on the third episode of String Finger Theatre, and something remarkably unexpected has happened. I may have gotten to the end much more quickly than I expected. No serious. I was looking at the three comics I sketched out today, and I realized that I was three paces away from the end of the episode. It wasn't even the expected end. I mean this was supposed to caterwaul on for a little while longer. I had point A, B, & C all figured out. The problem was that point C wasn't an ending. It really pointed at point D except I really wasn't certain what point D was going to be. This has been my main concern. What is point D? What is going to happen at point D?

So, today, I was working on point B except I suddenly realized that it wasn't really point B. I had achieved point B prime, and it was wrapping everything up nicely. There was no point C after point B prime, and I really didn't know what to do. I mean I want to get to point C. I've been thinking about point C ever since I started episode three. So, I've got a problem. I have to figure out if I can get to point C or even if I want to get to point C since I still don't know what is going to happen at point D. Maybe, it would just be better if things wrapped up at point B prime.

Except this would make episode three really short. I mean like ten comics short, and that is a little lean for what I want to do. And, it has been all Mike. He's been holding-up really well on his own, but still, I want the others to get involved. I don't want to do an episode with only one of the leads. Two leads is okay. But, only one? No way. This is not the Mike show. This is String Finger Theatre.

So, I've got to think about this, which is really hard when you are exhausted from all the work I was doing this weekend. So, there I was this evening chewing on the spiral binding of my notebook. Thinking. I was even asked what in the world was I doing. And, I answered. Thinking. This is the kind of nonsense I do when I'm actually contemplating the universe. I chew on the spiral binding of my notebook. I stare off into space. I hold my pencil under my chin. In general, looking like I am chewing my cud.

So, anyway, amidst all the insanity of the weekend, I managed to rent two movies. Yeah, I know I have got to try and relax at some point. One of those movies was watched in fits and stops by the way. Do something useful. Put the flick on. Do something useful. Put the flick on. Do something else useful. Do another useful thing. Hey, it's been like two hours since I had the flick on. Go park your ass back on the couch and don't do another damn useful thing until you have had some time to soak your brain in what was turning out to be a real turkey of a movie.

I'll start with the good movie, which I watched really late Saturday night. Identity. Oh, man, Identity was awesome! I mean it was really impressively cool and that was before the movie yanked the rug out from under me the first time. This movie had several cool twists, and I don't even want to start trying to describe it for fear of giving anything away. Basically, Identity is about a bunch of people who all wind-up at a flee-bag motel through a rather impressive string of wild coincidences. Then, they start to die. Then, they start to realize that they might not be there by accident. Then, they start to realize they have stuff in common, and this commonality is why they are dying. Cool movie. Awesome movie.

I had a coworker tell me she didn't like the movie because it had supernatural elements. Well, I disagree. There is nothing supernatural about this movie. Those are science fiction elements. They're not even properly science fiction elements but more thriller/science fiction stuff. Anyway, I have my doubts about how realistic the movie is, but it is the kind of thing you find in comic books all the time. So, I guess you could take it from that angle. Unrealistic. Very cool. Very common to books and comic books. Definitely worth seeing.

And, now for the other movie. The one I watched in fits and starts. The movie I rented because I heard it was a stinker, and I actually like to rent stinkers on occasion just to see how bad they really are. No, seriously, I rented Showgirls, Batman & Robin, Plan Nine from Outer Space & Spiceworld because I heard they were really truly awful flicks. Yes, I have seen Spiceworld. There were a group of us who all wanted to see it so we rented it one night. And, we were sitting there watching this movie, and I couldn't remember it. No, really, I would sit there and try to remember what had happened in the movie five minutes ago, and I would fail. The movie went in the eyes and right out the ears without stopping anywhere in between. How truly terribly unfunny is Spiceworld? One of the people watching almost threw-up and then nearly fainted. That is how bad Spiceworld is.

So, I was disappointed with Dreamcatcher right from the get-go. I mean the movie just wasn't that bad, and I was really disappointed. I was entertained. I was watching. Then, we got about an hour into the flick and my faith in humanity was restored. After a promising start, Dreamcatcher just totally falls apart. I mean we start with a perfectly serviceable Predator/John Carpenter's The Thing clone and then it turns into an evil villain wants to kill everybody movie. I just sat there and started to wonder what in the hell was going on. What happened to the aliens? What happened to the army? What happened to the guys trapped in the woods while the army and the aliens go at it with nuclear weapons?

What is this? Who is Mister Grey? Why is he speaking with a clipped English accent? Mister Grey is an alien, right? So, is he the head alien or just one of the pack? Why didn't they just let one of those snake-turd aliens loose in the woods to multiply and multiply and multiply until one of them found a stream that led to a river that led to a lake that led to a reservoir?

I've got a theory about Dreamcatcher, and it is based around the idea that Mister Grey is a devil and Dudates is an angel. But, it is getting on toward 1 AM, and I have to go to work in the morning so I'll just have to save that theory for another time. Okay, one hint. Remember theory three I postulated about the movie Signs? Yeah, they've got that kind of thing in common.

26 October, 2003

Something has been bugging me for a while, and I haven't been certain if I wanted to say anything about it. To be more precise, I'm really not sure I could say anything coherent on the topic. Nor do I want to come across sounding like that comic book guy from The Simpsons doing a variation on the phrase worse episode ever.

Okay, I've got a website. I can bitch and moan about anything I want. I can sit back in a not very anonymous fashion and talk smack about other people because it sure is easier than actually getting off my dumb fat ass and doing something.

Okay, I've got that out of my system. Now, to the issue at hand. I've got a problem with intellectuals and intellectualism, and it has got nothing to do with the fact that any damn one of them could talk pompous and intelligent circles around me any time of the day or night. My old roommates used to love to get my worked up about stuff like the definition of art and crap like that. They would just talk circles and loop-de-loops until I was frothing at the mouth. It's kind of why I don't bitch and moan about this kind of stuff more because I know how they could just start quoting stuff and get to sound all superior just because they can regurgitate something they once read and thought about as they sat there thinking about how smart they were.

I had a point. What happened to it? Oh, right, I remember now.

I was reading a movie review; something I should really stop doing if it's just going to piss me off, and I was really struck by how little the review actually had to do with the movie. The reviewer was bemoaning the decline of western civilization. We're all going to hell in a hand basket because books and movies and whatnot cater to the lowest common denominator. The guy started going on and on about how much better things were when he was a kind, and you can just sort-of stop reading right there. Anytime somebody starts talking about how much better things were in those long lost yesterdays gone by is exactly when you can stop paying any attention to them whatsoever. In fact, you'll know when I've completely lost it because I'll be going on and on about how much better things were when we was all kids.

I'll tell you the difference between now and then. We were kids! We didn't know any damn better. Lots of people look back at the past while mentally editing out the bad stuff which makes it really easy to remember the good and therefor know just how much better things were way back then. It reminds me of the time one of my professors looked out at us in the electronic music studio, and he said something to the effect of things were so much more fun and just downright better when he was our age. Now, one of my compatriots in the class, bless her heart, had the best come back to that I have ever heard. I'm paraphrasing but it went something like: You mean you liked being poor? You enjoyed not knowing if you're student loans were going to come through and if you were going to be able to make rent month-to-month? Let's not leave out that wonderful question of whether or not you were going to eat. So, the poor professor who had obviously edited out all the bad stuff from his memory just sort of hemmed and hawed and changed the subject.

Getting back on track, there were two particular things that this movie reviewer was bemoaning about the decline of western civilization and the things that made his generation the best in the universe. First, there was the decline and fall of culture in books and movies and whatnot. Intelligent and thought provoking material was being replaced by low brow and stupid stuff. Second, there was the move away from the hero as rugged individual who could stand on his own two feet toward the hero as inclusive group who can't do a damn thing on their own.

So, what the hell is intellectualism and why does it make my skin crawl? Well, that's simple. Another word for intellectualism is elitism. Intellectuals and intellectualism is all about the natural aristocracy and about how those smart bastards are better than everybody else in the whole entire universe because they can talk real cleaver and can regurgitate passages from books that they memorized. Now, I know you can go all the way back to Jefferson and beyond and read all about how great the natural aristocracy was supposed to be. No longer would class be determined by birth. Why, anybody with a brain could be educated, and the smart guys would rise to the top. The thing to remember is that you still had to get an education. And, who got the best education? Why, the rich people did, of course.

Okay, I'm drifting a little, but my point is that crying about high culture and intellectualism is crying about elitism. It's all about separating people into groups. The good groups and the groups that everybody who is anybody should belong to are the witty and intelligent groups who can look down their noses at everybody else and spend all their time talking about how much better they are than everybody else.

So, what is so good about high and intelligent culture, anyway? Is it really any better than popular culture? I mean there are lots of people who like professional wrestling. What is wrong with that? And, I'm really not sure there is a lick of difference between a classic of western civilization and professional wrestling. Have you ever actually read some of those books they tried to force down our throats in literature class (just to take an easy to kick while it's down example)? I don't mean to say that they suck. Well, a whole bunch of those classics of western civilization just plain suck. But, I mean that even the good ones really aren't that far removed from professional wrestling.

Let's take two easy to kick around examples. The Great Gatsby. Lousy book, by the way. Stupid, lousy, book. But, not my point. Have you ever actually read it? It's a romance novel. The plot is a tearjerker that could have been lifted whole from out of a stupid day-time soap opera. Hell, the cast of this book would have fit right in on the set of the Jerry Springer Show. No, I'm serious, have you ever actually read that stupid book? It's a soap opera. So, what I want to understand is what exactly is the difference between this and a soap opera? What? Is it the fact that it is a book? You have to read it? Or, maybe, it is just the fact that it was written years and years ago so it's got that whole back in my day we had good books thing going for it?

Okay, how about A Farewell to Arms? Good book, by the way. I was really surprised. I was expecting something as lousy as The Great Gatsby. Really depressing ending. Maybe, that is why it is considered a classic. Anyway, have you ever actually read it? The damn thing is a thriller. It's an action packed adventure story that you have seen time and time again at the movie theatre. So, aside from the really depressing ending, it really isn't that much different from professional wrestling.

So, what is my point? Oh, right, shut-up about intellectualism and the decline of western civilization, you elitist pig! Things went to hell in a handbasket long before you were born. So, what, am I anti-intelligence? Do I think everybody should be dumb and boring and stupid and sit around drinking beer, snorting nasal spray, and watching professional wrestling? Well, sort-of. I mean, the people who want to sit around watching professional wrestling should be allowed to do so. You shouldn't go around trying to make people feel bad for liking the things that they like. You don't like wrestling? Good for you. Go do something you do like. Oh, wait, you want to decry the fall of western civilization and make people feel bad for watching puke television? I guess that is kind of up to you, but ick. Why?

Oh, this is funny. I'm trying to make the pathetic intellectuals who need to make other people feel bad so that they can feel good feel bad. Wow, look at how wonderfully I can follow my own advice.

Okay, this is way too long and self-serving so I'm really going to give short shift to the second thing I wanted to make fun of from that critics review. Namely, what was so great about the heroes of yesteryear? I mean, sure, it really is good to promote self-sufficiency and all of that. You really should be able to make decisions on your own. However, the rugged hero is elitist, and it is as much about worshiping the guy who is obviously better than you as it is about standing on your own two feet.

I'm thinking of two rugged heroes of yesteryear in particular. I'm thinking about Doc Savage and Kimball Kinneson. Sorry, if I've got that last guy's name wrong, but I just don't feel like digging up my old copy of Grey Lensman to double-check it. So, what is actually vaguely unsettling and disturbing about these guys? They don't stand entirely on their own. They have groups of people who follow them around puppy-style and help them out and basically do anything and everything they are told to do. So, sure, we're promoting self-sufficiency, but we are also promoting hero worship. In other words, if you are not this guy, then you should be following him around like a happy puppy so happy to be around your betters.

Now, please, understand, I'm not exactly trying to talk trash about heroes of the collective consciousness. I'm just saying that maybe you should shut-up about how much better things used to be because maybe you're just shitting on other people and making them feel bad for no good reason. They think and like things that are strange and different from what you like? Well, boo hoo, poo poo. Not everybody in the universe likes what you like. Get used to it.

What is good about the group as hero? Well, it is inclusive. It downplays the whole worship the guy that is better than you trip that you can otherwise get into. This isn't perfect. I mean, now you've got this whole group versus group thing going at a higher burn. But, maybe people who felt they didn't belong to nothing because they weren't Superman can still feel like they have a place in the universe. They still belong, and they don't have to worship anybody. I know. I know. Now, I'm dreaming, but do you get my point?

We shouldn't be made to feel bad because we don't all fall into your narrow and elitist definition of what it means to be a good and intelligent person.

copyright © 2003 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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