I’ve never made friends very quickly. Wait, let me back up. Let’s talk about movies.

veronica marsI saw Veronica Mars last week. Good movie. It might not hold much appeal for the non-Marshmallows of the world, but speaking as a fan of the show, I really just needed it to not suck. And it didn’t suck. So, good. If it makes a profit (which it might, considering its rabid fanbase and low budget), perhaps we might get a sequel (or a miniseries)? I’m still not tired of Veronica. As far as I’m concerned, the world of Neptune has secrets left to reveal. I also saw The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was a Wes Anderson-y good time as only Wes Anderson can Wes Anderson. (Not mocking him, just saying: The man lives in his own little world.) This week, I’m thinking I might have to go out of my way to find a theater that’s playing The Wind Rises. I’ve been a diehard Miyazaki fan ever since I developed even a passing interest in film, and I’m lucky to live in an area that has plenty of artsy theaters playing the less-commercial films of the day. It is Miyazaki’s swan song, after all. I feel I must pay my respects.

Okay, now that we’ve talked about movies, let’s talk about the screaming voices in my head. They’re persistent, you see. Every time I prove them wrong about something, they scream about something else instead. Even though they have shown themselves to be wrong about basically everything so far, they insist that this time, I should totally be worried. This, by the way, is why I do not use mind-altering substances. I really don’t want to find out what happens when the voices are amplified by chemical means. I knew one guy who fell off a balcony and died after having a paranoid reaction to some weed he tried at a party. Cases like that are the exception rather than the rule, but still.

I think the problem with anxieties is that you get caught in the trap of thinking that the instant you stop worrying about it, it will happen. Logically, worrying about something has no effect on whether or not it will happen, but that doesn’t mean that attitude can’t affect outcome. To put it another way: I don’t believe that positive thinking holds the cure for cancer, and all of the evidence that I have seen on the topic backs me up on that. But I do think that negative thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you’re convinced that you’ll blow a job interview, the odds that you’ll blow it increase. Because what you’re really scared of is uncertainty, so if you make a negative outcome a certainty, you’ve solved the problem, haven’t you? It’s what happened with my last roommate. He couldn’t bring himself to trust me, but rather than admitting that to himself, he made so many unreasonable demands that my only choice was to get out of there while I still could. He probably just took that as evidence that the whole world is against him. Have I mentioned that he is a dangerous psychopath who should be avoided at all costs?

I find that my tastes grow more obscure as time goes by. This is a good thing. Why watch American Hustle? I know some people who thought it was entertaining, but seriously, why? There are obscure English B-movies from the 50s and 60s that are more memorable. Believe me, I can name a couple. I still see a lot of movies, but the part of me that needs to see every prestige picture dies a little bit more with each passing year. I like animation. I’m excited for Song of the Sea, the upcoming feature film from one of the directors of The Secret of Kells. (Tangentially, I’m glad the Oscars added the Best Animated Feature category, if for no other reason than that it made Hiyao Miyazaki an Oscar winner.) 12 Years a Slave might be the most deserving Best Picture winner since No Country for Old Men. There are those who will call it a “safe” choice due to the seriousness of its subject matter, but there is nothing safe about the film itself. It is every bit as raw and uncompromising in its depiction of a dark chapter in human history as Schindler’s List (perhaps even more so, given that film’s occasional lapses into sentimentality), but more importantly, it is a deeply humanistic film. Slaves may not have led easy or particularly happy lives, but they still found meaning. There is hope in that.

I’ve been reading more of the Bible lately. It’s slow going. There are long and boring passages about people begetting people and plenty of passages that directly contradict each other. Anyone who thinks that this is the inerrant and literal word of God has a lot of explaining to do. What I like about being a nonbeliever is that I don’t have to do any of that. If I come across a passage that doesn’t sit right with me, I shrug and move on. The Old Testament contains all sorts of archaic and unreasonable strictures, but even the New Testament condones slavery at one point. (Jesus forbids divorce, but is silent on owning people. Go figure.) Don’t get me wrong, I think there are profound moral truths in that book. I just think that having to cherry pick the parts that work for you while still explaining how you can believe that Jesus is returning someday takes more energy than it’s worth. For me, it’s just a series of guidelines, written by committee. Make of it what you will.

I have a long way to go before I reach the Promised Land. I don’t know how I’ll get there, but I’m getting a little bit closer as to why.

promised land


2 thoughts on “Progress

  1. I especially enjoy how you cover several topics and find a way to segue between them.
    What did you think of Gravity? I think, as far as “critical acclaim” goes, it was “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

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