Here at last!

Yay, I get to blog after all!

Today’s been a bit of a roller coaster. This morning, when I woke up for school, I felt fine…. till I got up. That’s when I got all dizzy and nauseous and it sort of felt like was was being repeatedly lightly compressed. I think what happened was that fluid built up in my ears and sinuses to the point that it was affecting my inner ear.

But I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew was that my head felt like a half-full water balloon and I felt sick every time I moved it, so, no class for me.

So I emailed both the profs of the classes I would be taking today warning them that I would definitely not be there for the morning class (Story) and might not be there for the second class (Film Theory) because I was ill.

Bases thus covered, I went back to bed and had a good long sleep, which I think I really needed.

When I woke up, I didn’t so much feel better as I had a lot more energy to deal with feeling ill. I was definitely well enough for class, so I went.

Film Theory was great fun, as usual. Today we talked about the so-called “Anti-Narrative” films. As you can tell, I have a lot of problems with that word. Anti-Narrative films would be absolutely random, images and scenes completely unconnected to each other, and even then, the human mind would construct a narrative via the montage effect.

So Anti-Narrative films, like anarchy, are logically impossible due to the basic nature of the human mind. I know that this makes me a stickler on this issue, and an argument could be made that it’s just a label given by film theorists to describe a certain movement in film and that I am getting all worked up about nothing.

But that’s just the way I am. I think labels should describe what is inside in some way, and so calling people like Terry Mallick or Terry Gilliam Anti-Narrative is absurd, illogical, and a misuse of language.

And I feel very strongly about language. Artists always have strong feelings about the stuff of which their art is made. Painters have strong opinions on light and balance, interior designers talk passionately about flow and color, sound designers really want to change your equalizer settings, and writers want words used correctly and when they are not, we get mad.

Anyhow, the examples of so called Anti-Narrative included Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas (which totally told a linear narrative), Tree of Life (which tells the story of, as far as I could tell, an entire human life, and there’s nothing more narratively satisfying than that), and even 2001 : A Space Odyssey (totally narrative even in the monkey and stargate parts).

So in conclusion, Anti-Narrative is a stupid term and it burns me up to imagine there are people making movies then going around talking about how their movies don’t have narratives.

The basic description of this kind of movie is that it will have a non-traditional narrative structure (hey, they could call it that!), it will feature deeply flawed characters with serious issues that make you wonder whether you like them or not, and it is more about character that storytelling.

By that definition, the only movie you could make would be one where you described a character then did not with them. The moment the character did something, woops, narrative!

Oh, and get this, one of the things said about this bullshit movement was that they thought the script was not important. And this was said to my entire class of WRITERS. Oy!

And I know this about myself : I am intensely narratively driven. To me, a movie (or whatever) consists of two things : story, and bullshit. To me, absolutely everything serves the story. No exceptions. Even character development, comedy, red herrings, and every other literary device you can think of. It works as a story or it doesn’t work as anything.

That doesn’t mean I want nothing but plot. Even if that is possible, it would be quite alienating. You couldn’t invest in the characters or identify with them because you would know nothing about them. Even intensely plot driven stories end up showing things about the characters.

Although I do like the idea of playing with form by doing something in which you never learn anything about the characters except by their actions. You could explore a very interesting narrative space with that. Sometimes alienation can be a good thing.

Anyhow, after class it was time to hook up with the fabulous Felicity so we could go to her Stand Up For Mental Health comedy show tonight. The program does two big shows in its duration, one halfway through and one at the end of the program, and this was the mid-way one.

First, Felicity and I ate dinner at the food court of a nearby mall. I had Indian food, and it was pretty good. Although it bothered me that I got two different dishes that were basically the same color. It made it look like Indian cuisine has only one medium brown sauce.

But it was tasty and filling and came with fresh made naan, so it was all good. Then, it was off to Yuk Yuk’s, where Felicity did a hilarious and very well received set, as did the other comedians. It was a very pleasant evening. I tried a Mai Tai for the first time. Can’t say I was super impressed. I had somehow built them up in my mind as something truly exotic and clever, I guess, and instead they were just a fairly pleasant orange juice cocktail.

Kind of made me wish I had saved a couple bucks and just ordered a screwdriver (which is a highball) instead.

After the show, Felicity dropped me off at home.

As for the rest…. you were here for it!

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

The Land of Nodding Off

I am so sleepy today!

Honestly, it’s about time. I have been getting away with only five hours of sleep a night for too long. So I honestly don’t mind sleeping all day if it means I get caught up on sleep. It’s not like I have a lot of important things planned for this afternoon anyhow.

Tomorrow, the grind resumes. The next week of class has no mornings or afternoons off, so I guess the honeymoon period is over and from here on in, it’s the full deal. I don’t mind, really. It was nice to have the small mercies of a period off here in there up to now, but I didn’t sign up for VFS to not work.

I do have one bit of homework pending : my short script for Short Script class. I will, of course, be writing that American Intervention piece. I can’t wait. I was going to write it this weekend, but I am too ill. It will have to wait.

It’s not due till Friday, so I have time.

My illness seems to be on the way out. Just like last time I had a cold, it seems like it comes, hangs around for a while without ever becoming more than mild, and then leaves. It’s not as good as never getting sick in the first place, but it’s not all that bad.

Right now, besides the sleepiness which may or may not be associated, the main thing is that I still have the heaviness in the chest. I am kind of hoping the phlegm loosens up so I can start coughing it out soon. It’s gross and inconvenient and kind of a drag, but it feels good to be rid of the stuff.

Then again, my chest feels lighter than yesterday, so maybe I will roll a natural 20 and get out of this cold without the goo stage entirely.

That would be nice.

Oh, and for the record, I did end up going to FRED last night. And I had a good time. But by the end of it, I felt pretty ill, and was eager to go home. I was very hot, and I I felt like my limbs weighed a ton each, and my earings were ringing slightly. So I was glad to get home, strip naked, and lay down with my head like six inches from the fan so I could cool the fudge down.

Right now, it’s mostly the tiredness that is dragging me down. It’s hard for me to stay focused on the bloggification. My mind keeps wandering away as the sleepiness rises within me, then I have to patiently guide my mind back to the point like it’s a well-meaning but easily distracted toddler.

“Timmy? Timmy? Look at me, Timmy. No, Timmy… LOOK AT ME. Now…. are you listening? Good. We need to get back to making the cookies, Timmy. Remember the cookies? You want to help me make the cookies, right Timmy? The yummy, yummy cookies!”.

I was kind of a Timmy. My mind would wander freely. I always had part of my mind monitoring what people were saying for things that were relevant to me (not a long list when you are 3) but most of my mind was wandering with the same enthusiasm and energy normal kids used for actually moving around and playing. I was too timid for that. In my mind, I felt safe.

It’s very sad, but it’s me.

And that complex inner realm is not without its rewards. Without ever meaning to do it, I have been developing my mind and my consciousness for my entire life, or at least, for as long as I can remember. That’s where I learned to think deeply about things, and figure out how things work and how they connect to one another. How to listen to that inner voice that thinks far more deeply than the conscious mind could ever hope to fathom. How to have my mind open to unwilled events, like inspiration.

And that’s what led to all my little talents, like writing. All my wizardry is the result of inner exploration. Possibly including my empathy, or at least, my sympathy.

I have been pondering my empathic reality lately. I have always gotten a lot of empathic input, wanted or unwanted, true or false. I never have trouble understanding how other people feel or why – I am a very understanding kinda guy. [1] And I am not the sort of person who rejects the unconscious mind. I would be in pretty deep trouble if I was limited to the products of conscious mentation. Nor do I have any issues regarding accepting the reality of empathy.

And yet, lately I have been feeling like I am, despite those credentials, still trapped in a rationalist box. I can accept the products of empathy…. but only if I can slot them into a rational interpretation of the world. I would never simply act on my intuitions without checking them with the rational mind. Whereas I can act on rational thought while completely ignoring the deeper mind as unreliable and, to be frank, quite stupid.

And that’s not right. I know this. There is nothing wrong with acting on emotion, for emotional reasons, now and then. Some people get through life doing little else. I go on about how there is no noise, only signal we don’t understand yet, but I know that I screen out a lot of what happens in my head as noise in order to preserve my rationality, and I am beginning to wonder how wise that is.

Maybe I would be a lot better off if I actually listening to the winds of my mind instead of ignoring them and suffer as a result of the resulting inner whirlwind.

Maybe the most rational course of action is to stop being so damned rational all the time.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. That’s how I know I don’t have Asperger’s, I am just socially underdeveloped. People’s actions have never been a mystery to me and I have no problem with theory of mind. I’m just a doofus.

Yup, I’m sick

It’s officially a chest cold now, although cold tend to move around on me, so it might become a head cold eventually.

But right now, I have the scratchy throat and heavy chest that indicates a chest cold. And I am tired. So very tired. Not sleepy, just…. not firing on the majority of my cylinders. Writing these words is taking a lot out of me, and it is not usually ever this hard. But I am plum wore out.

It’s a FRED night. Not sure if I should go. I am quite ill feeling, but that’s not enough in and of itself. I feel like crap all the time, can’t let that stop me. But I am also presumably quite contagious, and so there’s that to figure into the equation. I am especially worried about Barb. She’s a delicate creature and I would hate to be responsible for putting her in the hospital.

And I have to admit, staying in and just ordering Chinese food (for the nutrients) or pizza (for the nom value) does sound appealing. But appealing in a bad way. I am trying to overcome my tendency to isolate myself. I will never learn to feel safe amongst others if I continue to flee their presence. And the FRED crowd are people around whom I feel pretty comfortable. So they make for good practice.

So I dunno. I will play it by ear, I suppose. I will make up my mind by 6 at the latest, so there is still time for me to text Felicity and telll her she doesn’t need to pick me up should I decide not to attend. That will give me time to decide how I feel about the whole thing and how I am feeling health wise.

Funny how the products of reason so rarely lead to a rational decision with me, despite my high level of intellect. it’s that whole playing for stalemate thing. What my intellect can formulate, it can counter-formulate, and therefore it is always up to emotion to break the tie.

Perhaps that’s universally true : that intellect informs, but emotion decides. Or if not emotion, will. Decisions require the inner strength and confidence to commit oneself to a course of action. That means accepting the risk of being wrong. The intellect on its own wants to make all decisions based on sure and certain knowledge. But that is a rare substance and the demand for decisions far outstrips what anyone’s intellect can supply, no matter how intelligent. It’s rare to even have a clear sense of the odds.

So for the intelligent people like myself who tend to “lead with our heads”, the devil is in making decisions with insufficient information. To gamble, basically. Take risks. Face the unknown and unknowable. Thinking that one will be fine when one cannot possibly know that is a very potent kind of faith, and yet it seems to be necessary for mental health. At the very least, it requires that one extrapolate an overall trend of doing okay from one’s life experiences, and that’s the sort of thing that can’t possibly be used in a predictive matter.

Woe to me that I have traveled along the path of “pure intellect” for so long. I look back upon my life and I think about all the time I have spent without understanding that there is more to life than the mind, and that you don’t have to understand something before accepting it as true, and that mental health requires experiences just as much as thoughts in order to spur inner growth.

Even stupid people understand that, though they can’t be said to know it. They just have to listen to the wisdom of their instincts, and do what their emotions tell them to do, and while they will win no Nobel prizes that way, they will at least pursue their own inner needs on a regular basis.

And then there’s we, the blessed idiots, who are too smart to know what we really want, let alone truly need. We are truly les idiot savantes, capable of great feats of wizardry but with our heads so far up our own clouds that we trip on pebbles and end up in the gutter right alongside the basest of fools.

And there is only two ways to get back onto the right track. Either go all the way back to where you went wrong, which is a tad daunting when you diverged from it as a preschooler, or forge your own route back through the dark and terrible forest of your mind. That requires a great deal of effort but it’s the more direct route. And the wood is full of monsters… but you own them all.

We come up with so many ways to hide from ourselves and hide from the world. We create roadblocks then forget we are the ones who put them there so we can pretend that we really do want what we are supposed to want, and it’s only that darned roadblock that is keeping us from going for it.

When the truth is, we are choosing to preserve the ideal by blocking its pursuit. It’s like loving someone from afar. By never approaching your goal, you eliminate all risk of it not living up to the ideal in your mind. And best of all, it also means you don’t have to do with the hot, messy, complicated real world, and can remain in the deep sharp shadows of the light of intellect without the warmth of emotion.

It’s a terrible neighborhood, but at least the rent is high.

And to think that it all boils down to faith : the ability to believe in that which is not known…. or knowable. The feeling that you will come out okay no matter what. It is something no act of intellect can deliver and yet it is the vital core of true mental health.

It is an ironic fate indeed to die of skepticism.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

The Fru be illin’

I am definitely coming down with something.

My throat’s all scratchy, I’m burning up, my nose is running (quick, someone catch it!), my muscles are stiff and achy, I am lightheaded and slightly nauseous, and I have that overall feeling of malaise that I associate exclusively with my immune system going to war.

And it’s happening right before the weekend, and I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, my adult side is glad I probably won’t miss any class because of this bug. But the kid in me kind of wishes he got some sick days and nurturing attention out of the whole thing.

We never really grow up.

Today was fun at school. I had Short Script course, and today was the day we presented our three ideas for short scripts.

Here were mine :

1. A jury-room drama in which average citizens argue the case of the People versus the SNAP corporation, the makers of the pill that cures boredom. Take a pill, and for four hours, you are immune to boredom’s effects. You can do damned near anything and not get bored at all. The pill is, of course, a massive success, especially after SNAP gets the pill rated safe for over-the-counter sale without a prescription. It is extremely psychologically addictive and overuse leads to people becoming increasingly dull of wit as they no longer have boredom to spur them into mental activity. It’s gotten to the point where hospitals are starting to fill up with victims of what the media calls “grey brain syndrome”, or greyheading, which causes severe addicts to burn out completely and lose all desire to do anything at all. Understandably, it did not take long for a massive class action suit to be launched, and that’s the case our jurors are deciding. SNAP insists that the drug is harmless “when used as directed” and they are therefore not liable for what happens when people abuse it. The prosecution argues that abuse was easily predictable by anyone with a grain of sense, and that SNAP is both criminally negligent and actionably liable for the millions of people losing IQ points, possibly permanently, to this insidious and dangerous substance. Unbeknownst to the jurors, one of them is actually a plant from the SNAP corporation who is being paid a lot of money to make sure the company is not ruled against no matter what it takes, and is sabotaging all attempts to reach a verdict.

Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

2. A man wakes up after a night of hard partying and many exotic substances ingested wakes up completely sober and with no hangover, but now has the ability to look into people’s souls. At first this ability frightens him, but he soon figures out how to use this ability to manipulate people, make lots of money, and live out his most avaricious fantasies. As this happens, though, a curious phenomenon emerges. Increasingly, when he looks into people’s souls, he only sees…. himself. Eventually, despite his new wealth and power, he loses his mind as he descends into a solipsistic nightmare where nobody but him is real and he feels so alone that it drives him mad.

And finally, last but the opposite of least (most?)….

3. An American Intervention. A short film in which the rest of the world stages an intervention to tell America how worried we all are about it and how we are all willing to pull together to get it the help it needs in order to keep it from harming itself or others. Works well with the international roster of student at VFS!

And just think, there was ten of us, with three ideas to present each, each idea pitch to be two minutes max… it was fun but exhausting. And then we workshopped them!

Then, I might have found it exhausting because I am ill. My tonsils are beginning to hurt and the ache in my throat is solidifying. I am doing my best to stay hydrated and positive. This is just some stupid bug. It will suck, but then it will over and life will go on just like all the other times I have been sick in my life.

I wish I had thought to get OJ when I was shopping earlier, though. I have chicken soup, but the thought of eating anything hot right now repulses me. I will eat extra helpings of fruit when I can manage it in order to boost my immune system, and maybe a granola bar here and there because I am sick and sick people get nice foods to eat so they don’t feel so bad.

Oh, and of course, today of all days is the day I got caught in the rain without my jacket on the way home from the Skytrain stop at Richmond-Brighouse. Luckily, it was very light rain for the majority of the two blocks home, and I took advantage of every awning and overhang I could find.

I really need to get a summer jacket. Preferably made of something nice and light so having it in my schoolbag all the time won’t be a huge drag.

Oh, I forgot to mention : the point of bringing in three ideas is so we could get feedback on them that would help us pick the one we wanted to write.

And for me, there’s no contest. I am writing the American Intervention one. That thing is going to be fun to write. And even though we’re only expected to write the thing, not get it made, I am going to try to get it made anyhow as I think it could go majorly viral online, and at the very least, it’s the sort of thing I could really enjoy doing.

I would, of course, direct, and possibly produce.

Oh, and of course, the moderator of the intervention is…. Canada! After all…. nobody knows more about the lunatics to the south than we Canadians.

We’re the mouse in bed with the elephant, after all.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Liberals are prejudiced

Something came up in class today that sparked some rage in me today, do I figured I had better let it out and hence benefit ftom it while I can. Cathartic opportunity and all.

I won’t go into details, as that would be indiscreet, but at some point, someone responded to my pointing out that liberals can be prejudiced too by smugly asserting thst it was impossible to be prejudiced against the dominant group.

And that is such obvious self serving bullshit that I am shocked anyone has the temerity to speak it out loud in public on a sunny day.

I mean, I get it. Hate is fun! Pretending you’re a liberal is great and all, but to take it to the point of having nobody to shit on and feel superior to and even wish harm to would be taking it too far, wouldn’t you say, all you fucking Hillary Clinton fans?

Liberals will go on and on about tolerance for race, then go on about all the bad things white people have done, as if it’s fine to judge an entire group based on the color of their skin if you nod seriously and make it clear you are “one of the good ones”. “White people” didn’t own slaves, a group of human beings owned slaves. There is no homogeneous monolithic undifferentiated group of faceless, identical race units known as “white people”. Race itself is a meaningless yet harmful socially constructed illusion, and that’s as true for the artificial grouping known as “white people” as it is of any other artificial grouping by skin color.

Liberals like to think that they care about “the poor”… unless those poor people happen to drive pick up trucks, love sports, and live in trailer parks. Then, it’s nothing but jokes about dumb inbred rednecks who fuck their cousins and cook meth. People who, just like whatever undoubtedly racist, classist and sexist vision of “the poor” a liberal cherishes, are people who have not had the same opportunities that the average intellectual liberal has had, and it is equally not their fault if they happen not to have book smarts, be part of a culture that doesn’t value education, speak in a different way that society says is lower status, and sometimes think the wrong things because they don’t know any better.

But no, liberals ignorantly perpetuate harmful stereotypes about “the wrong sort of poor person” and, in doing so, send a very clear message to those people that liberals truly are the elitist snobs their right wind pundits say they are, and are therefore their enemies. They have every right to think liberals hate them…. because they do. And then, they have the gall to preach tolerance and acceptance of every single group on God’s green Earth except poor white rural people.

And then they turn around and wring their hands about how “those people” can support someone like Donald Trump. Well you know what? Donald Trump seems to be on their side. When’s the last time liberals tried to convince those same people that they were on their side? Without it sounding as uncomfortable and insincere as when conservatives try to court the black vote?

Oh, and how about liberals’ ideological mutual masturbation about how multicultural they are? Well why doesn’t that include the culture they consider “dominant” when, in truth, it’s just another school of fish in the global fishtank? Why can’t that supposed tolerance extend to the culture where people love sports, hunting, and generic beer? Where is your vaunted compassion then?

And what of their supposed religious tolerance? They will tolerate all the religions of the world… except the one they were raised in, Christianity. There, they feel quite happy to judge all churchgoers as ignorant, deluded sheeple too scared to think for themselves who “hide behind religion and guns”. If one of these “rednecks” said the exact same thing about Islam, they would get shouted down by the liberal masses in a heartbeat, and that stinks to high heaven, and said “rednecks” know this and rightfully complain about being singled out as the only religion it’s fine to bash.

That’s where all this “war on Christianity” bullshit comes from. Am I the only one who sees that?

That’s why I have decided that I am a humanist, not a liberal. I believe in extending compassion, tolerance, love, and respect to all human beings, whether they are the most ignorant, racist, sexist, ignorant trailer park hick as it does to the most picture-perfect imaginary “victim of society” or the most eco-friendly politically perfect justice warrior.

To a true humanist, there is not nor can their ever be any excuse for treating one group of humans differently than the others. There can be no special category of humans that it is acceptable to treat poorly, to make sweeping generalizations about, to treat as a single homogeneous entity as opposed to individuals.

You want to know the definition of prejudice? Thinking you know something about someone based on information that has no connection to what you think you know. And that applies as equally to thinking you know someone is an uneducated bigot because they are white and wearing a John Deere cap as it does to thinking you know someone is a lazy criminal just because they are black and wearing a hoodie.

Humanism is the moral root of all true liberalism. Everything else is simply a different flavour of the same ignorance, intolerance, and primitive tribalism. If you can’t imagine opening your heart to “rednecks” and trying to see the world through their eyes, then you are part of the problem, and doing as much to keep the Donald Trumps of the world in business if not more. And you certainly cannot claim any moral superiority over those you so readily disdain.

People can only come together when we tear down the walls between us and dare to care even when we do not understand or even approve of each other. We only evolve as a species when we are willing to ignore all the irrelevant superficialities and cherish the humanity in all of us, no matter what people will think of us for doing so.

Until then, the fake liberals will continue to drive people further apart.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

I’m stronger than you

Consider this little speech a gift from me to all my fellow fatties who toil in obesity, reviled and hated, as hopelessly addicted as any junkie or drunk but offered none of the tolerance and understanding enjoyed by other addictions.

This one is for you. Feel free to use it should you need to defend yourself from the haters.

You look at me and think I weak, slow, and out of shape.

But I am, in fact, stronger than you in every way.

It’s easy to prove. Take my weight, subtract yours, and make note of the answer. Now, pick up that much weight and hold it at around gut level.

Now tell me…. how does that feel right now? How will it feel in ten minutes? How will it feel three hours from now? How would you like to have that there for the rest of your life?

Still think you are stronger and healthier than me? You wouldn’t even be able to stay on your feet, let alone walk.

Tell me, how do your feet feel? All swollen up and hurting like hell? Good. That’s not even half of what we fat folk go through with all that weight pressing down on our vascular systems.

Finding it hard to breathe? Fantastic. That’s what we go through 24/7 because our hearts are overtaxed and our lungs have to supply far more oxygen than they are designed to do.

Does it feel like the temperature of the room shot up? Well it didn’t. It’s just that overtaxed muscles produce a lot of heat. If you were truly obese, you would also find out the hard way that at generates a lot of heat and you don’t have nearly enough surface area to radiate it out. That’s why we are hot all the damned time.

But you could always change, you say. Just stop eating so much. And cut out all the bad stuff!

Okay. Let me ask, have you gone without your favorite foods for two weeks lately? Probably not. And if you did, you know that it’s very hard to do.

Well in order to lose a significant amount of weight, I would have to do that for two years.

And that’s not easy. Ask any addict. Because that’s what we are : addicts. Our addiction happens to be food, especially high-reward foods like junk food.

We all know that tasty foods makes people happy, right? Well addicts are people who can’t generate enough happiness on their own and try to fill the gap with artificial sources of happiness like drugs, alcohol, or tasty, tasty food.

But our addiction is different, because its major symptom – obesity – makes us unpleasant in your eyes. And that makes it easy to view us as no longer human and thus make the easy jump to just blaming us for it instead of wondering what the hell is happening to make so many people fat.

I am pretty sure that you will find that we are the largest addict group in the world…. and the most hated.

So the next time you see an obese person, think to yourself ‘There goes someone who as gone through things that would have crippled me, survives in a society that hates them for things beyond their control. and lives a life full of pains, drains, and sprains, and still manages to lead a normal life. ‘

You know, the same normal life you complain about when you don’t have half the problems we do.

So damned right we are stronger than you haters.

We have to be.

Had my first experience of being workshopped today. It was my turn to deliver a little presentation of this worksheet we were given in Character class, and so I used an idea I have had about a detective who is a 17 year old pretty pink princess type girl who wants to prove to her father (who is a homicide detective) and the world that she is not just a puff of pink in polka dot panties, and she chooses to do this by trying to solve the murder of the biggest bully in her high school.

After that, we workshop the idea, which means everyone in the class (plus the prof, natch) offers suggestions as to how to extend or improve the basic concept.

And I was not sure how I would handle it, but it turned out to be downright magical. Having others listen to and show interest in my idea was thrilling enough, but to have them make some extremely good suggestions was like holy communion to me.

The idea changed in detail quite a bit in the workshopping without anything of substance being altered. I just have a much better case for her to solve now.

Her name is Teresa Heintz. She is the prettiest and nicest girl in her school. Everybody loves her. Everyone has always loved her. And for a long time, that was more than enough. But now she’s in high school, she just got her driver’s license, and she is starting to realize that not everyone has had the kind of life she’s had, and the sad truth about why everyone has always been so nice to her (her looks), and how she find herself driven, for the first time in her life, by a strong need to prove herself.

She’s not used to having strong drives. Her life has always been so easy. So she is not used to it, and all the pain and discontent that comes with it.

But one thing’s for sure : The kid the bully picked on the most did not kill him, and she’s going to figure out who the real killer is, and what’s more, she will do it faster than her father can.

Then he will HAVE to take her more seriously!

I love this character more every time I think about her. I am seriously thinking of turning this idea into my pilot pitch.

I am told my ides is similar to the show Veronica Mars, which bums me out of the house. It’ also slightly like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But mostly, of course, it is all me.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

How to tell a story

Learned some very cool stuff in Movie Theory class today. I really should bring a notebook and pen to that class. He gives us the real motherfucking deal.

Anyhow, we learned about three storytelling forms. One is the hero’s journey they have been pounding into us :

1. Normal World – We establish what is ordinary life for the hero and other vital characters.

Luke Skywalker : Boy, life sure sucks on this moisture farm!

2. Call to Adventure – Something shakes up the situation and suggests a path to adventure.

Luke : Hey, this droid has a tiny flickery woman in it!

3. Refusal of the call – The hero isn’t sure they want to do this.

Luke : I can’t go find this hot but inexplicably familiar chick! I have responsibilities!

4. Meeting the Mentor : The mentor is usually an older character that gives the hero the knowledge and/or wisdom and/or equipment to go forward.

Luke : Wow, what a neat sword! And it comes with magic powers? Awesome! Well, better get home to my aunt and uncle….

5. Crossing the First Threshold : The hero passes a point of no return that commits them to the journey.

Luke : NOOOOO! The farm has been burned! The two people who raised me are dead! THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!
Ben : So what you’re saying is you’re available…

6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies : The bulk of the story. Enemies faced, challenges overcome, complications accumulated.

Luke : To hell with Alderaan, we have to rescue the princess!
Han : Now listen kid….
Luke : She’s really rich.
Han : …well okay, but don’t make a habit of this, kid.

7. Approaching the Innermost Cave : The hero must go into the belly of the beast to achieve their goals. Sometimes this is accomplished by getting captured.

Han : That’s no moon!

8. The Ordeal : The hero goes through a very personal Hell.

Ben : So long, suckers! I’m leaving to never be as famous as this again! *dies*

9. The Reward : The hero gets rewarded for surviving the Ordeal, and now, in theory, could end their journey.

Luke : Boy, am I glad to have escaped from the Death Star!

10. The Road Back : The hero find their way back to the main battle, this time to finish it for good.

Rebel Pilot : Hey, we’re going to the Death Star. Wanna come?
Luke : I sure do!

11. The Resurrection : The hero faces the final battle, which almost always involves facing death itself, either literal or emotional.

Luke : Wow, a bunch of people have already died and I only have one more chance at this extremely important thing I am doing. Time to ignore science and go with my gut!

12. Return with the Elixir : Battle won, the hero returns with the good news, everybody celebrates, and the hero is rewarded.

(Luke gets his medal.)
Luke : Heee, she touched me!
Han : Well, that’s it. We all got medals. Even the robots. What a great ending.
Chewbacca : (in Wookie language) Hey, where the fuck is my medal?
Han : Hey, you’re lucky they let you in at all… this building doesn’t usually allow pets!

So that’s the big one. If you want to do the whole psychological journey, you use that storyform. It’s kind of elaborate and somewhat restrictive, but it can result in a very powerful story that really stays with people after the show is done.

There’s two others, but I am spent, and I can’t find one of them online anyhow.

We also heard a story about a screenwriter who had written very successfully for every genre there is. When someone asked him how he did it, he shrugged and said “Easy. Four good scenes and no bad ones. ”

I like that. Obviously, it’s not that simple, but I liked the efficient reductivism of it. It makes sense to me. If a movie has four really good scenes, odds are, you will enjoy it and remember it fondly. There will have to be stuff in between, acting as the connective tissue, and it all has to make some kind of logical sense. But assuming you have done your job with the four scenes and managed to avoid including any bad ones. you have probably made a pretty good movie.

I have seen plenty of movies which get the first half right : they have four decent scenes in them. But the rest is total garbage, so they are still bad movies. I can’t say I have seen a movie where the connective tissue was great but the scenes sucked. I suppose in that situation, you don’t notice the in-between stuff at all.

Afternoon class was TV Genre, and we did (fanfare) SCIENCE FICTION. It was (falsetto) AWE SOME! We talked about all kinds of science fiction TV shows, and we watched a documentary called Pioneers of Television : Science Fiction, which had tons about the original Star Trek, Lost in Space, the Twilight Zone, and the Outer Limits.

And so you got talking head bits with Shatner, Nimoy (miss you!), a few of the Lost in Space kids, and most importantly to me, they found an interview with the man himself, Rod Serling.

Now there’s a man I would invite to my You Can Bring Literally Anyone You Want dinner party. He was a powerfully intelligent and fascinating man, and a hell of a writer. He wrote 90 of the original 150 or so episodes of the original Twilight Zone, including the infamous “send you to the cornfield” episode, It’s A Good Life.

Fun fact : The evil omnipotent child in that episode was played by Billy Mumy, AKA Lost In Space’s Will Robinson!

I’ve always thought that the child in that episode was two one-dimensional, as if all children are pure evil and just lack the power to do ill. That’s why I prefer the rebooted version from the 1980’s Twilight Zone series. In it, a kindly social worker manages to get through to the boy, who is more confused and upset than outright evil, and establish boundaries and discipline for the omnipotent boy by appealing to the child’s real need for a parental figure.

I suppose I kind of identify with that kid in that I was always a lot smarter than the adults in my life could handle, and I really needed someone in my life to set rules and boundaries and to look after me for my own good, instead of it all being on me.

Children cannot raise themselves. They’re not qualified.

No wonder I was raised by TV!

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

On being a pet

One form of BSDM-ish behaviour I can sort of see myself getting into would be the whole owner/pet thing.

Not in an abusive way…. violence of any sort simply has no place in the world of my sensuality. So whichever role I am playing, there is to be no cruelty, violence, torture, or abuse.

But I can definitely imagine myself in either role. That’s just how it goes with me. I can be either parent or child, and I can switch on a dime in the right circumstances. That’s how I am built. I can see myself settling easily into the sort of relationship based on mutual nurturing, one of us always playing the caregiver to the other, and swapping places according to need.

So it would be a very gentle kind of BSDM. Call it BDSM Light. I would be very gentle and caring to my pets, and would only use discipline when absolutely necessary. This might disappoint some potential playmates, who expect to be dominated and abused, but that is nevertheless how I roll.

I have no inborn need to dominate. It could be brought out in me, I suppose, by a gallingly disobedient pet, but that is a road down which I refuse to go. I have so much darkness within me, and a potential Krakatoa of suppressed rage, that I dare not risk letting it loose all at once.

I have to let it out slowly and carefully. Soon I will figure out how to go geothermal and turn all that latent energy into things like charisma, optimism, determination, and other positives. It will mean carving a path through all that depression so that the energy can reach the positive side of my personality, but I am getting closer every day and soon, I will be able to really and truly shine.

As a pet, I would be looking to exchange affection, loyalty, and entertainment for stability, security, and a certain degree of pampering and indulgence. I could be very loyal to someone who treated me right, and like I have talked about before, I have no problem being second banana. As long as I am treated with respect, I can be the lesser of the pair no problem. Like I said, I have no inborn need to dominate, and that means I can be on the bottom without feeling like this means I have “lost”.

I am too independent for that. I choose the situation that suits me. I don’t care where that sits on the scoreboard of life.

I’ve never believed in scorekeeping anyway.

So I could be very supportive and nurturing, like the classic ideal 50’s housewife, just as long as my husband understands that he is not to confuse subservient with inferior, ever. I will happily be your (not so) little housewife just as long as you don’t insult, belittle, or impugn me.

And if you do, you better bet there will be hell to pay, maybe now, maybe later. Depends on my mood.

I am perfectly capable of causing a massive scene in order to make a point.

And obviously, bondage is out of the question. I know some people are excited by that kind of thing, but if someone ties me up, all I want to do is escape and kill them. I know that’s very harsh, even a little psycho, but that’s how it goes with me. It’s the anger component of my generalized claustrophobia. If someone tries to confine me (something I deeply fear), then it’s not enough to merely escape. I have to destroy the source of the confinement so that it can never confine me again.

And to punish it for having the temerity to try to control me, too.

So no leash. In the other role, I might tie someone up if it really made them happy/horny. But nobody ties me down (or ties me up) and lives to tell the tale. Not. Going. To happen.

I never said I was sane.

Watched the rest of Team Foxcatcher.

And yup, pretty depressing. It is, in a sense, the perfect tragedy story because you can see what is coming but feel just as helpless to prevent it as the people who were actually involved. John duPont’s paranoia just got worse and worse, especially when some motherfucker started supplying him with cocaine, a drug which turns normal people into paranoid wrecks, so you can imagine what it would do someone who was already paranoid to begin with.

And when I say we get to see it happening, I mean that in a very literal sense. Everyone at Foxcatcher loved to take home video. I can’t imagine what an embarrassment of riches that must have been for the people making the documentary. So the doc has loads of footage from these people’s actual lives.

Add some talking heads footage with those same people, and you got a documentary.

The documentary also does an excellent job of illustrating how cruel an illness paranoid schizophrenia is compared to the other psychoses. Other kinds of major mental illness incapacitate the individual and while that is horrifying, it limits the damage they can do to others.

But a paranoid remains active and tuned into reality until the very last stages of the illness. And that’s bad enough, but it also causes them to turn on those who care about them. John had a lot of people who genuinely loved him in his life, and they had to watch helplessly as he turned from a childlike innocent into a paranoid monster who would accuse them of plotting against him in the most hideous and bizarre ways while being completely unstable and unpredictable.

And you know who loved him the most and who was the truest and dearest friend John had in the world? Dave Schultz… the person he shot and killed.

It’s especially tragic because in the documentary, Dave comes across as maybe a little below average in the intelligence department, but a social genius whom everyone loved because of his warmth, charisma, and optimism. He made everyone feel good. So I can’t help but feel that this was the person least capable, on any level, of plotting against John.

The kind of good news is that John did not get away with it just because he was rich. He died in jail. Sadly, due to the nature of the law, that meant the prosecution had to argue that he was not legally insane, when he so clearly was.

I really think we need to change “not guilty by reason of insanity” to “not guilty but too crazy to walk amongst us” or maybe just “guilty but crazy”.

Makes me glad to be the quiet kind of crazy.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

I ain’t feelin it

Not feeling the words today. I would really rather not have to blog today because it means having to structure my time and plan and whatnot and I do enough of that during the week. But I am being treated to a movie by my dear friend William, and so it is definitely worth it, and it’s just my lazy whiny Jagoff side that is bitching about that kind of thing.

We are going to see the latest version of The Jungle Book, the live action-ish version. I have heard good things about it. And I am pretty sure I can go into it with a mostly open mind and not judge it solely by the standard of the original Disney classic that is one of my top three Disney flicks (tied for second with Disney’s Robin Hood).

I wonder if there is singing in this one? I hope not. That would make it harder for me to keep the two distinct and separate in my mind.

I mean, what new song could compete with this?

I am intrigued by the fact that Kaa the snake is voiced as female this time. The original scene has such a potent pedo vibe that it makes me wonder if the gender switch was to counter some of that. If so, then it was futile, as there are plenty of female pedos preying on little boys out there too. And they generally don’t get caught because people want pedophilia to be as alien as possible to them, to locate it as far away (in the hands of random male perverts) rather than face the truth, which is that most molestation is by a trusted family member and women are as likely to offend as men.

Boy, that got real dark real fast!

Let’s return to the relative safety of implied cartoon pedophilia, rather than the real world stuff. Here’s the scene in question.

That scene makes me rather uncomfortable now. It’s so goddamned pervy, to the point where I have trouble thinking Kaa intends to eat Mowgli. Nobody gets that excited and seductive about a meal.

Not a lot else going on in my life right now. It’s great that I will have tomorrow off in addition to the usual weekend. I will take pains to search the upcoming week for boobytraps in the form of homeowkr I have not done or classes I should be preparing for or whatnot. I am pretty sure I am current, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

I know that I have already done my little presentation of one of my script ideas and that it is sitting on my student account, waiting for me to print off enough copies for the class. I haven’t done that yet because I am not very good at keeping things looking nice and clean, and if I had already printed them, they would have gotten all rumpled and crinkled and messed up in my bag despite my best intentions.

So I will have to do the printing the “day of”, so to speak.

Today is going to be a very busy day for me. First the movie, then my birthday dinner, then the BCSFA meeting, then hanging out with the usual suspects till 3 am. I can feel the cramped up socially crippled part of me going “nooooo, don’t make me do that, I need to be able to scuttle back into my hidey hole and hide from the world until the scary things go away at all times!”

But I don’t. I will be just fine. I kinda wish I had more time to sleep, but that’s sort of my default state of being lately, so I am used to it. Besides, I can’t trust my sleepiness. Sometimes it’s legit, and sometimes it’s just a psychosomatic attic insane sleepiness created to give me an excuse to retreat from the world and its anxiety inducing overstimulation and general loudness and scariness and so on.

But hey, if you don’t endure, you don’t adapt. You have to stick with it long enough for you to adapt to the new situation, at which point it will stop being so painful and scary. That’s the real lesson for those of us who have spent time in the prison of our own anxieties. If you hang in there, and do your best to stop resisting the situation and resisting change in general, you will adapt to the situation and, subjectively speaking, the situation will change.

I went through this with Kwantlen. When I first got there, the building seemed massive and confusing, the noise and activity levels were very scary to me, and finding and attending my classes seemed like trying to find my way through a maze made of anxiety and noise.

But I kept at it, and over the weeks the place shrank in my mind, and the hallways seemed less crowded and loud, and what was painful before became easy and normal and good.

And what’s more, I took the knowledge of this process with me into VFS. I was quite anxious at the beginning, and the layout of the department seemed confusing, and my fellow students seemed like they were judging me. But I knew it would pass, and it did. I am going into Week 4 of my 48 weeks at VFS, and it’s all old hat to me now. I am slowly learning to socially integrate with my classmates, and I have a good idea what is expected of me, and so now… it’s just school.

And I am good at school.

One interesting thing about the social integration thing : many profs have told us that the class I am in, Writing Class 52, has gelled socially far faster than any other group they have had. I would like to think I am a small part of that. Despite all my anxieties and strangeness, I put out a gentle, inclusive, and harmonious vibe that makes it easier for people to feel like they belong.

And that’s with me still fairly socially crippled.

Imagine what I will be able to do when I am all healed up!

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

It could have been worse

My childhood, that is.

I am halfway through watching Team Foxcatcher, the real story behind the events depicted in the movie Foxcatcher, and let me tell you, I really feel bad for John DuPont.

For one thing, I identify with him. I know what it is like to grow up socially isolated like he did. And he had it far worse than I ever did. I mean, this poor guy had never had a meal with another human being until he was 13 years old. All his meals were brought to him by the maid. Everyone he knew worked for his family. He had siblings but they were all older and had little to do with him.

And I identify with that a million percent.

I know what it’s like to be forgotten. To be too timid to ever ask for attention or advocate for your own needs, and therefore to have to learn to be self-sufficient in a really terrible way. You don’t learn how to live, let alone thrive, but you do learn how to… get by. How to not quite starve. How to cling to the tiniest shreds of human warmth you get.

How to be pathetically grateful that a cashier was kind of nice to you.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have the option of buying friends. I figure I am better off for that, on the whole. I would rather have sincere loneliness than insincere closeness any day of the week. At least when you are alone, you know where you stand.

But John didn’t have that. Like a lot of people who grow up rich, he learned to be paranoid about whether people really liked him or just saw him as a big bag of money. But not too paranoid… he always had a rather pathetic credulity, willing to do anything for people who made him feel like he had a friend.

That’s so pathetic it makes my whole soul sad. And like I said… I can very much relate.

A lot of times in my life, I met someone who made me feel less alone and then clung to that person despite the fact that the person obviously didn’t really want me around. But when you are that lonely, you will ignore all but the firmest and clearest of signals to go away.

Like the dog who comes back, tail wagging, no matter how many times he gets kicked. Because sometimes he does not get kicked, and gets to hang around and feel like he belongs for a while.

John was so much like me, but worse. We see him in the documentary at age 55, but he clearly still has the emotional patterns of a child. Like fixating on someone and wanting to be around them all the time. And a strong need to be liked. And, sadly, a certain instability in his sense of reality.

According to the doc, he had his good days and his bad days, and on his bad days, things got pretty weird.

Like, they tell one story of a time when John called to say he needed to be rescued because his brand new Lincoln was floating in the estate’s pond. Everyone thought, well, okay, he was going too fast around the pond, could happen to anyone. So the auto shop gives him a loaner to use while the Lincoln dried out.

The very next day, John has a very important Russian wrestling official in the back seat of the loaner, and does the exact same thing again. Drives the loaner right into the pond. What a weirdo, right?

Well as a similar breed of weirdo, I can tell you exactly why he did it, both times. Because by driving into the pond, he made people express concern over him and display care by coming to rescue him. That’s exactly the sort of thing I can imagine myself doing if I were a little less stable. There have been times when I seriously contemplated inflicting harm on myself just to get the caring attention I craved.

Luckily, I am too sane to actually do that kind of thing. Nope, not me. I would never do something that would be so obviously a cry for help.

In fact, I never cry for help at all.

If you are wondering about the title, Foxcatcher was the name of the athletic compound John built for the various athletes he more or less adopted, particularly wrestlers. Another poignant detail from the doc is that all the wrestlers worked together to let John pretend to be a wrestler like them. To be “part of the team”. He trained with them, wrestled with them, even entered wrestling competitions with them, all to feel like one of the boys.

But he was in his fifties and frail and slow and so he just plain could not wrestle. The wrestlers would wrestle him and let him win. They’d encourage him to compete. They would put together fake wrestling meets where there would be an audience shouting his name. It’s exactly what you would do for a Make-a-Wish kid… and for a lot of the same reasons.

For most of them, it was out of genuine affection for this clearly very delicate man. He wasn’t just a meal ticket to them. I can imagine someone like that having a profound effect on you. He’s the sort of person who could rouse the nurturing instinct in Ebenezer Scrooge himself.

I am only halfway through the doc, so I don’t know what leads to the tragic end to the story. But I have gotten far enough that he is showing all the classic signs of paranoid schizophrenia spiraling out of control, so it is pretty clear that he’s on the wrong path.

And when you are rich and powerful, who is there to save you from yourself? Paranoid schizophrenia is incredibly hard to treat even under the best of conditions.

But with someone like him?

It’s no wonder it all ends in tragedy.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.