Abyss of Silence

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Church of Science Fictionology

"I feel sorry for you."

How many times have I heard this bogus claim from a religious person with whom I've been debating? Oddly enough, nine times out of ten it actually means, "I hope you remember this conversation when you're burning in hell." But hey, that's ok. I don't feel sorry for them either.

You know who I really feel sorry for? People who "don't get" science fiction. Seriously, I think that's really sad.

This has been one of my favorite genres ever since I was a little girl. Now I'm not talking about your Stargate SG-1s or Star Wars movies or your latter incarnations of Star Trek. I personally think if Gene Roddenberry could see what they've done with the franchise (perfect term for it) he'd shit bricks. I'm talking about the science fiction of the original Star Trek, (to some extent) Firefly and the new Battlestar Gallactica but especially Star Trek: The Next Generation. Yes, some are space opera but others are quite a bit more. Both are fun but it's that second type of science fiction which I love. I suppose it's because of my humanist nature.

People who don't get it, I think, are put off by the "other world" trappings (the lazer guns, and odd creatures and whatnot) or they are overly concerned with what is or isn't "cool" or basically don't understand the intention of the piece.

Other world trappings: Ok, they can seem silly at times but are necessary. If you notice, the essentials don't change. The technology is new-fangled but dang, who remembers their Commodore 64? The technology has to be far more advanced if we're to believe this is in the future. The shows, however, aren't about the technology, they are still focused around humans, with human problems. Yes, there will be different creatures, but sometimes those creatures and their particular plights are used to represent a marginalized portion of our current human population. And finally how about a little suspension of disbelief? Is imagining a different state of being that difficult?

It's just not cool: First of all, please graduate from high school! Anyone overly concerned with appearances needs to grow the hell up! How boring can you be? Besides, I'm not telling you to go out and buy a Star Fleet uniform or insist to everyone that they must "Live long and prosper." I don't do that and I've never been to a Star Trek convention although it sounds hysterical!

Some people take it much further than I do and well, they're not hurting anybody. So whatever. There are always going to be some who take something and just run with it. But there are always going to be others of us who sit back and appreciate the thing for what it represents.

What's the point? The point is examination, imagination, possibility and hope. Tough social issues and basic morality are examined and, by taking it out of the context in which we are used to, perhaps a fresh perspective can be viewed. Imagining new worlds, new peoples, new challenges. I mean seriously, I don't think I want to know someone who isn't in the least curious about what is out there. And finally, hope in the possibility that human kind can, itself, unify. True dreamers (idealists) write, work on, and avidly watch these shows.

If you still don't understand, I'd suggest watching "Trekkies II." If you watch the first one, you'll just laugh at the freaks. Watch the second because it examines the impact of the show Star Trek in other countries. See how people in post-war Bosnia have embraced it as a hopeful example of what man can acheive rather than an excuse to play dress-up and learn Klingon.

Live long and prosper.
Oh, I had to say it!

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Very Touchy Subject

I don’t like the N word. I don’t use the N word. I have little patience for anyone who does, really. It smacks of uneducated stupidity (no that’s not redundant) or misdirected anger.

Scapegoating is not a philosophy of mine. If a Black person does something bad, I don’t assume that all Black people are bad. I don’t make similar assumptions about any other ethnic group. People are people, we’ve all got the same bloody, oozing organs on the inside.

I felt it necessary to state that in the beginning before I write what I intend to write about. Because in this day and age you have to state that outright for the mere mention of the N word can brand you as a racist by some. Look at me; I’m even nervous about typing it.

The word is nigger. It’s an ugly word because of the connotation it exudes of slavery and lynchings and other basic shittyness, which has been heaped upon a people for a very long time. It is still used by haters. A derivation of it is used by the hated. I’m not fond of either’s use. In one case the people are using it to be as nasty as they know how to be. In the second case, it’s being used as a way of stealing the thunder from the haters intention, which I don’t think it accomplishes but seeing as I’m as white as a sheet, my opinion doesn’t really matter on the subject.

What I am getting at is the word and all the subtext that goes along with it exists. There were and are still jerks out there who think in this ass-backward way.

I don’t really want to talk about racism itself but of hiding from the truth. What started me thinking about this is I was watching “The Shining” yesterday on cable. I don’t remember which channel but it was a basic cable channel that everybody gets. Now I find that cable is getting ridiculous with censorship in the last couple of years, but I digress. Anyway, so in “The Shining” there is this scene where Delbert Grady (a ghost) is speaking with Jack Torance (Nicholson’s character) in a bathroom. He explains to Torance that his son, Danny, is trying to bring an outside party into the situation and describes him as (in the original version) a “nigger cook.” In the version showed on cable yesterday, this was dubbed over with “no good cook.”

My question is why? In the story, Delbert Grady is a ghost who, while he was alive, went crazy and chopped up his wife and twin daughters with an axe. He and the rest of the ghosts of the hotel are driving Torance crazy and want him to do the same. It’s not like we were in danger of liking Grady. So who is being protected? Are children being protected? If that were the case, they wouldn’t show such a freaking scary movie in the middle of the afternoon. Is the mere mention of the word, by such an obviously malicious character, going to make people racist? Doubt it.

Was it necessary for the story line? No. Had the word never been in the original, I wouldn’t have missed it. I wouldn’t have thought, "you know, that Grady character should have been blatantly racist as well." With it in, however, a whole new level of evil was added to his character for me. We react to words like that. They evoke a reaction in most people. Whether it’s a good reaction or a bad reaction, it’s a valid reaction.

Movies and theatre strive to entertain but also to provoke thought. Isn’t this something worthy of thought? I was a little kid when I saw this movie. When he said that word, I gasped because I knew what it meant.

So why change it? You can’t change history. You can't alter the fact that there is ugliness in the world. Is it a, “maybe if we don’t talk about it, it will go away” kind of thing? I don’t know. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Redwoods, Beach Glass and Wineries: A day trip

I'm one of those people who lusts for travel but in the end does very little of it. I can't afford big travel (other countries & whatnot) but there are many places in the vicinity that I haven't been to. Have I made that homage trip up to Bodega Bay yet? No. (Don't worry, Steph, I'll wait for your next visit for that.) Have I driven up to Crater Lake? No. The problem with travel for me is, well, me. I tire very easily. I've never had vast stores of energy or at least what seemed to me like the vast stores I've observed in others. I would love to go places but getting there and home is so fatiguing! I think it's just a me thing. A couple of hours of shopping and I'm dead.

It is for this reason that I accepted David & Dana's invitation for the following trip with equal amounts of enthusiasm and hesitation.

The concept: The thought was to drive up to the Fort Bragg area (in Northern California) to go to Glass Beach and then hit (as in go to, not rob) some wineries on our way back. Glass Beach got its name in a fairly obvious way. There's a lot of beach glass. I never got the complete story but either there was a glass factory there at one point or it was just a dump, either way there is a lot of wave smoothed glass lying on the beach. C'mon, how cool does that sound? To get to this beach, we need to drive through the Andersen Valley, famous for its wineries.

This is about a three-hour trip, one way.

That almost put me off immediately. But I gave myself a kick in the ass because:
1. We always have fun with David & Dana.
2. It sounded really cool.
3. I can act like a zombie in front of the tv any day, and that's getting really old.
4. I'm 31 years old and life is short, and getting shorter.

So we hauled our cookies up at 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning and met David & Dana at a restaurant in San Rafael for breakfast. After gorging ourselves on the delicious fare, we were off in my car. The plan was that Dana drive up and I (being the ultimate designated driver in wine country, seeing as I hate wine) would drive back.

Talk was animated and varied on our way up with Rick and Dave sitting in back. Rick and Dave have a strange effect on one another; when put together, they tend to drive each other to new heights of hilarity. So there was lots of laughter. About 45 minutes into the journey I thought I'd be annoying and ask, "Are we there yet?" only to find I'd been anticipated when Dana answered, "20 minutes." This is, apparently, her staple answer on car trips, no matter where you are in the journey the answer is "20 minutes."

About an hour and a half into the drive, we got off the 101 and changed to the serpentine (128). If you are untroubled by motion sickness well, bully for you. I, however, am not and this is a twisty-turney road and you are on it for at least an hour and a half. What it has in gut-wrenching, inner ear disorientating turns, it makes up for in beauty. I had never been to the Anderson Valley and it is GORGEOUS! Vineyards, green fields, hills of green, cute little sparse towns and redwoods. My gods, the REDWOODS!

We stopped half way into the serpentine for a pit stop and so I could drive, which made the rest of the trip much more tolerable for me. It was not long after we went into an area so littered with redwoods that the sunlight (when it could make it's way through) hit the windscreen like a strobe light. Both sides of the road were just lousy with redwoods. I wished I had my "Vertigo" soundtrack with me.

After the redwoods, we hit the beautiful coast, crossed a couple of rivers and over some very pretty bridges. At last we hit Fort Bragg, which in itself was nice but not so amazing. Glass Beach was just beyond it so we were literally 20 minutes away!

Glass beach itself was lovely. Of course in my minds eye I (always) idealize things. I imagined a beach glittering with glass. While this beach was not the dazzling spectacle I'd pictured, it was great nevertheless. Dana was practically salivating. She'd been wanting to come here for quite a long time and was by no means let down. She practically plunged head first down the dune to get down to the beach to collect the precious beach glass (which she LOVES). We all collected glass for a while and then I just started to climb around and enjoy the scenery. It was a gorgeous day! The sun was screaming in the sky. I have to say Glass Beach is a bit weird. There are huge piles of what look to be ironworks debris, some embedded with glass bits, out in the cove. From a distance they just look like craggy, dark rocks. They lended a post-appocalyptic vibe but interesting as hell. David and I climbed around for a
while as Rick, who had caught the beach glass lust, and Dana continued to collect. After a while I was just happy to sit, smelling the sea, feeling the breeze blow through my hair and the sun on my face. Eventually we (meaning David and I) decided it was time to go and physically removed Dana and Rick from the scene.

We had lunch in a local pizza place and started the long journey back. While in the car, we listened to our David Cross comedy cds, otherwise we were stopping at wineries. David, Dana & Rick all did tasting while I enjoyed the scenery. This I totally didn't mind. The area is so beautiful and quiet. Those are two of my favorite things. I wasn't even tired at this point, which surprised the hell out of me. The wineries were in revoltingly idylic settings to the point of bordering on cliche. I watched them taste all that wine with a mixture of disgust and envy. I mean wine is pretty gross on the whole but they're obviously getting something that I just don't get. I like smell of the wine. In fact the odors made me yearn for the only wine that I like, Lambrusco, which I ended up buy the next day. Otherwise it all tastes the same to me; bog water. So I left them to it.

Eventually we got back in the car for good (except for one disgusting bathroom/gasoline stop), and ended up dropping them off at their car around 7:30 p.m. and drove ourselves home. I have to say I had a great time!

Now I want MORE!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bad blogger! Bad, bad blogger!!

I've been negligent, but I finally answered some comments. Work has been insane this week. Between the gym, work, the play, and going out (which we've been doing more than usual) I've just been too busy. But at least I've been keeping up with my email!

So whine, whine, whoa is me! I'm basically making up excuses for not blogging. Hopefully I'll have time next week. Until then, have a nice long weekend! I have President's Day off! hee hee!

Friday, February 10, 2006

An open letter to my friends and family:

I’ve been delinquent with emailing and correspondence in general ever since Christmas. It has been a mixture of busyness, desk swapping, and laziness. This should catch you up with my exploits.

From this point on I will try to do better. My apologies.

Christmas was fun, however brief. Rick and I drove down to Lancaster on Christmas Eve. One little addition to the trip this time was our furry bundle of joy, Paiwacket. Believe me, I weighed the pros and cons of taking a cat 400 miles away from home. At the time this seemed like our only real option. Well it turned out to be a disaster. He ended up having panic attacks (seriously, panic attacks!) and so I had to cut my trip short and return home with him a few days later. Christmas it self was nice though. The tree was dwarfed by the gifts surrounding it (Rick’s nieces made out like bandits!) and my mom, sister, and brother-in-law joined us later for more gifts and dinner. My dad couldn’t join us as he had to stay home nursing a rumbly tumbly.

The next day we drove to Ventura as Rick was to give a talk to a Ventura atheist group. About forty people showed up, and his talk was well received, Q&A lasted about 25 minutes, and we sold around 15 copies of his book. I stayed with my mom that night and Rick was driven home by his sister.

The day after I met up with my friend, Amanda, in the San Fernando Valley for tea. We went to the Guilded Rose Tea Room, which, ironically, is situated directly across the street from Pinecrest, the elementary school Amanda and I attended and where we met. Amanda had never been to tea before so I thought it would be fun. It was fun. Visits with Amanda are always fun but I can’t give a wholehearted thumbs up to the Tea Room. The food was ok but mainly it was over crowded, loud and too hot. I was sweltering, I can’t imagine how Amanda (being extremely pregnant at the time) felt.

That night I went back to Rick’s parents and the next morning Paiwacket and I drove back home, that was December 28th. Rick stayed down south to hang out with family and friends until January 8th. I didn’t go back to work until January 2nd, so I had six days off and spent them mainly by myself, without doing very much at all.

We’ve had a few bad movie nights with our new friends, David & Dana. We all revel in really bad movies; connoisseurs, if you will. So we’ll get together at one of our apartments, eat food, drink alcohol, and shout out jokes and/or snide remarks at the screen. Dana has a particular love of movies about or involving zombies. Man, the stinkers we’ve watched! Great fun!

On January 18th I took a class on the duties and laws governing Notary Publics and at the end of the class (6 hours) took a state exam. About a week later I was informed that I passed! Hey, I hadn’t taken a test in years so I wasn’t sure. But I passed with a 93%. So this Tuesday I had my fingerprints taken at the local Police Department. Once my background check is completed (them coppers got nuthin on me!) I will jump through a few more bureaucratic hoops and eventually receive my Notary Public commission. My employer is paying for this so everything I do on their behalf will be for free otherwise I can charge. My boss doesn’t even mind if people come here to the office. Sweet! I expect tens of dollars to be rolling in post haste!

Part time job: I finally quit! As you probably know I’ve had a job as a substitute House Manager at a prominent regional repertory theatre. This job I have hated since almost immediately upon hire, for various and sundry legitimate reasons. (I’m keeping this ambiguous for the internet. Plus I don’t think it a good idea to burn a theatre bridge.) January 29th was my last performance with them. So long, and thanks for all the fish, y’all!

Birthdays: There were so many since Christmas. Though I’m pretty sure all were acknowledged HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO:
David- December 26th
Victoria- January 13th
Amanda-January 15th
Lisa- January 21st
Hazel- January 25th
Me-January 30th
Dana-February 2nd
And a very special happy birthday to Amanda’s new little one, Emily, born on January 24th of this year.

Play: Far be it from me to have only one job at a time! I’m stage managing Noel Coward’s “
Relative Values” at Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond. We held auditions for it between January 22nd - 25th. Something new this time, I’m going to be on stage as well! I have a small part as Alice, a rather dippy, star-struck maid. Don’t bother to haul your cookies up to the area to see it if you’re only interested in seeing me in a show. As I said, it’s a small part. I only have three small scenes. We’ve just completed our second week of rehearsals and things are progressing nicely. Lots more work remain.

More babies: My boss is now on leave. She is having twins so she requires three months of bed rest before her three months of maternity leave. We threw her a baby shower that turned out to be quite a lot of fun. I’m still glowing from the compliments! Anyway, while she’s away I get an office! Sweet. I also finally got a new computer at work, so that’s another reason I’ve not been online much this week. I’ve been a nomad until now, having no permanent workstation of my own and any second I had for personal stuff went to the play.

That pretty much brings us up to date! Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday so Happy Valentine’s Day one and all! I have lobby duty at Masquers next Friday for the show that is currently running. Umm, oh and I’m going to try to visit Winita on the 18th, but I haven’t heard back from her yet. NUDGE!

Talk to you later!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Crazed and Confused

I have a short list of movies that I'm a little kooky about. These are movies I can watch over and over again and still be fascinated by them. I'm not exactly sure why but while assembling the list I noticed a trend. Madness and mystery. This is especially odd because I'm a pretty sane person. At least I think I am. Also, I'm all about comedy and trying to be funny. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a bit of a ham. I prefer comedy in general so I feel the need to explore why I like the ones that are so out of character for me. Why do these serious movies intrigue me so?

Rosemary's Baby

I couldn't even guess the number of times I've watched this movie. It's a strange and very well made movie. Unfortunately it's like Psycho in that it's so famous you already know the ending. How cool would it have been to have seen Psycho without knowing that Norman Bates was the killer? Anyway, it's the same with Rosemary's Baby. I already knew the ending when I first saw it. The movie has never really scared me, but it creates a great air of mystery. I like that Rosemary isn't an idiot (Mia Farrow is pitch-perfect). I like that the cast is so great. Though I hate New York City, I love the 60's New York they show. I love the styles. I'm not much for fashion but I like the
clothes and the decor as she redecorates her apartment. There is something so comforting about those styles. Probabaly me trying to revert to a child again, though I don't think I was even born when it came out. Lastly, I love the ambiguous ending! I mean, what would you have done?

Another very famous, this time TV, movie starring one of my personal favorites, Sally Field. Say what you like, I think she is so amazingly talented. Comedy, drama... she can do both well. Anyway, this time it's more madness than mystery, though there is a bit of that too. Everytime this comes on television, I watch it. My husband will walk in the room and laugh at me. "Sybil again?" What can I say? It's on. It's like Everest. I watch it because it's there. I've always been fascinated by insanity. I don't know if that makes me sick or what? Am I a malady voyeur? You can't help but become invested in her plight.

Field is amazing playing all of the different facets of Sybil. Then when they get down to it, when Sybil remembers what was done to her that drove her to madness you're both disgusted and engrossed.

Girl, Interrupted
Ok, we're back again at madness again! I told you I'm fascinated by insantiy. Winona Ryder is very good but probably because she's playing herself and Angelina Jolie is fantastic as well but perhaps for the same reason? I don't know. There's something wrong with me. Why are these movies so gripping? Aside from the aforementioned fascination with mental illness, I think I also find the idea of going in a place where you're days, meals, and activities are planned out for you, at least for a little while, somewhat enticing. That sounds really nice sometimes. I guess that's the part of me that resents being an adult and having so many responsibilities. I've never felt myself losing my grip. I've been blue but it's never reached such proportions! In fact, in these movies I tend to identify more with the therapists (Vanessa Redgrave is fantastic) but there is always that slight attraction to just letting go and saying or doing whatever comes into my head. It sounds so freeing; unfortunately you generally have to be mad to do it unabashedly.

Ok, this is getting ridiculous! Although the madness in this is faked, unless you count Jimmy Stewart's character's obsession. I think I'm so fond of this movie for a different reason however. That reason is SAN FRANCISCO. This is a visually gorgeous movie. Fantastic soundtrack too. The era once again is pleasing emotionally and aesthetically. I wouldn't call this Hitchcock's best movie. I'd say Rear Window is his best, but this movie draws me in. Separating itself from the rest of the movies on the list, this movie's central character is not a woman. Is it just the visual feast of San Francisco? Is it the burning desire he has for this woman? And who is this chick anyway? Also this movie gives one such a solitary feeling. While I enjoy company, I'm a bit of a loner at times. I adore this photo.

Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with the visuals. I enjoy the plot, very much but I just love the look of the film. I've been to Fort Point, where that photograph
was taken. In fact I need to do a day where I go to all the sites. I just love San Francisco!

The Birds

Another Hitchcock film. This is probably the oddest movie for this list. When I was a kid I thought it was absolutely goofy. I don't think that any longer. It has never scared me but it sets a really great mood and one I can't really put my finger on. This, like some of the other movies, is set in an earlier (comforting) time, is about a woman in an extraordinary situation, and has some more shots of San Francisco. And hey that hunky Rod Taylor,
doesn't hurt.

I went to Bodega Bay when I was a little kid briefly with my parents. I don't really remember much of it. I've been tempted to make the drive again, just because of this movie. And as much as I would like to explain it. I can't, not to my own satisfaction.

So I guess it all boils down to me wanting to escape. Escape responsibility, modernity, and reality.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Who Gives a Shit? Part II

DISCLAIMER: Most of my "Who Gives a Shit" posts will involve overexposed celebrities. Their status as a "Who Gives a Shit" honoree may be their fault or entirely not their fault. I don't give a shit who's fault it is, I'm just bringing up topics I don't EVER want to hear about again.

Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt

I don't give a crap that she's pregnant. I don't give a crap about whether or not they are getting married. I don't give a crap about how Jennifer Aniston is coping. My question is, who does give a crap outside of their circle and, for the love of Pete, WHY?!