Down in the Valley

It’s been said by a million people before me that M. Night Shyamalan is a better director than writer, and that’s more apparent in his bad films than his good ones. Take this scene from Lady in the Water, for example. Never mind the context. Paul Giamatti has a big monologue that brings the whole film together. The movie surrounding it is a total mess—dull, unfocused and pretentious. But this scene works. It’s not that it’s not corny, because it is. It’s just that Paul Giamatti—a legitimately great actor, in my opinion—pours his heart and soul into it. Shyamalan wisely elects to shoot the scene in a static close-up. Because that’s how you film a big monologue. You don’t rely on fancy camerawork or unnecessary reaction shots to convey the drama. You plant the camera in the actor’s face and let them do the rest. I could go on and on about all of the things wrong with The Village, Lady in the Water, and The Last Airbender (about which the less said, the better). But something tells me that in thirty or forty years, we will still be watching The Sixth Sense and possibly Unbreakable. Shyamalan’s first feature, a little-known film called Wide Awake, is pretty sappy. But it contains a surprise twist (of course) that is actually surprising. Shyamalan hides it in plain sight the whole time. On that count, at least, the film is a success.

Something happened at work that bugged me. My boss pulled me aside to let me know that if somebody asks me to do something when I’m not on duty, I should do it anyway. Call me lazy, but I don’t think that’s fair. Oh, I’ll do it anyway. But if he’s bringing it up, it’s most likely because somebody complained. I can’t imagine myself complaining to the manager of a place because an employee told me that as he was on break, he could not refill the toilet paper in the bathroom. I guess some people think that way. My point of view is that you should show up on time and do what they fucking tell you to do, but everything after that is extra credit. When I’m off the clock, I don’t have to do my job. It’s that simple. My boss says that if I do something for a customer when I’m not on the clock, he’ll make sure to add it to my timecard. Okay. But I’m wondering: Where does this stop? If I run into a customer on the street and don’t feel like chatting with them, can they call him up and complain? I don’t go out of my way to be a dick to people (unless they deserve it); I just value my privacy. A lot.

Up until now, I would have said that the customers at the coffee shop were awfully nice. Most of them are, I suppose, but I’m starting to think that they’re a pretty entitled bunch anyway. Seriously, why is it so fucking hard to just find somebody who is on duty and ask them to be your bitch instead? You do understand that I am a person, right? I have a life outside of serving coffee. I am not obligated to fetch you anything you want anytime you want. So I’ll do what I always do: complain. This blog, at least, is my blog and no one else’s. I don’t have the patience to be anything less than completely candid. I just don’t.

Something else is bugging me. You see, I’ve complained many times before about the need so many in the LGBT community have to be as inclusive as possible. This is a good thing, at least at first. There is a certain point at which trying to be open-minded crosses over into accepting viewpoints that necessarily exclude each other. And that is simply unacceptable. To put it another way, I know that bisexuals often face discrimination from both straight and gay people because monosexuals believe that they just need to “pick a side” or some such bullshit. That is wrong. But I have heard some bisexuals turn it around and say things like, “I don’t fall for somebody because of their looks or their outer packaging; I fall for who they are on the inside. Fuck. You. First of all, that implies that we monosexuals see everyone else as nothing more than their genitals. Second, it gets bisexuality wrong. The bisexuals I know don’t claim not to see genitals; they just acknowledge that some days, they’re in the mood for cock, and some days, they’re in the mood for pussy. If they fall in love with someone, they are falling in love with their cock/pussy, too. So no, bisexuals are not just a more evolved form of humanity. And anyone who neglects to point out the self-righteous cuntiness of that statement is a coward.

Pictured: somebody whose outer packaging I like quite a lot.

Pictured: somebody whose outer packaging I like quite a lot.

A couple months ago, I saw a play about coming out and other gay stuff. It was okay—howlingly funny, but preachy and sadly misguided in its belief that coming out is, all by itself, enough to sustain a feature-length narrative. But it was also at least 30 minutes too long. Intermission included, what should have been 90 minutes tops ran well over two hours. At first, I thought that the writer/director had fallen so in love with his own creation that he could not bear to cut it. Then I realized that he just didn’t care. That pisses me off. It’s as if for some people, the message matters more than entertaining people. But people are more likely to think if you can engage them first on another level. Your entire life is not a political statement, is what I’m trying to say. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

This is a piece that we played for my orchestra in middle school. I don’t know why I’m thinking of it now. It’s pretty, that’s all.


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