I used to watch those educational shows on TLC and the Discovery Channel. I’m not sure if they still air anymore. Some of them were reenactments of old crimes, others were about haunted houses and stuff. I’m sure some of it was bullshit, but a lot of it was entertaining. A lot of the supposed paranormal phenomena that people report can be explained by faulty eyewitness testimony or magnetic fields causing machines to act in weird ways. I liked to watch the shows that would air around Halloween (I think) about the Tower of London and how anybody managed to escape from that. Since I’ve been getting more into science-y things lately, maybe I should get back into history and shit. The problem is that most unsolved mysteries have more mundane explanations than people realize. The Bermuda Triangle, from what I can gather, is nothing more than a stretch of sea where ships and planes disappear sometimes. (Okay, I’ve also heard something about methane bubbles and magnetic fields fucking with navigation controls, but that still ain’t Cthulhu.) The craziest stuff is usually the everyday.
The annoying thing about my insecurities is that they migrate. That is to say, I’ll spend an unhealthy amount of time obsessing over whether or not that mole on my back has grown in size, and as soon as I’ve convinced myself that it hasn’t, I’ll spot something else and start worrying about that instead. It would be stupid to say that worrying about melanoma makes you immune to skin cancer, yet I can’t help but feel that whatever health or body image issues I might have to deal with in my lifetime, that mole on my back is no cause for concern. The voices in my head never shut up. They’re always there. I keep looking for simple pleasures to help me fend them off—a few days ago, I tried out a new restaurant, which is an interesting experience even if the place turns out to be no good (it was decent)—and at the end of the day, they’re still there. I can’t spend all of my time wandering around with my head in the clouds.
I mentioned a post or two ago that I had started watching Orange Is the New Black. Well, I’m only a couple episodes in, and I already have an opinion on it. It’s a good show. For the most part, it’s very deft at balancing comedy and drama, and it makes a political point about the prison-industrial complex without being too heavy-handed about it. (Seriously, we need to cut it with this “I’m a good person, I would never do something like that” bullshit. Most of us are capable of murder and armed robbery, given the right circumstances, and the characters on Orange, generally speaking, are guilty of shit like credit card fraud. If you think you wouldn’t pull that shit if you found yourself in a tight spot, you’re a goddamn liar.) The show is sensitive in confronting issues of race, gender, and sexuality (I just watched the episode about Sophia’s transition; it was great), and I love the way that every episode ends with an “Oh snap, shit just got real” moment that practically begs the viewer to binge-watch. I think I was right in my assumption that the show would have been structured differently had it aired on TV rather than being on Netflix.
One thing that I’ve learned from my time in customer service is that the customer is always right…except when they’re not. People apologize for not being clear about their orders sometimes, but the only bad customers are the ones who don’t know what they want and blame you for not reading their minds. There are people who give all sorts of specifications about how something is supposed to be made, then send it right back after we’ve followed their instructions to the letter. You wonder why they even got out of bed this morning. My problem is that I’m not very good at time management. For a guy who works only part-time, I still manage to finish only a tiny fraction of the shit that I want to get done every day. That’s not unique, just annoying. And I used to be a bit better about forming a plan and sticking to it. But my brain keeps dragging me in weird directions.
Everyone has their guilty displeasures, the stuff that they don’t like even though everyone tells them they should. For me, one of those would be the movie Being John Malkovich. I’ve liked other stuff by Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze, and while I wouldn’t say I disliked the movie, there is something so cold and bleak about it that I found off-putting. It’s an endlessly inventive and clever film, yes, but also one with no human core to it. Even for a dark comedy, that’s a problem. When you think about it, it’s more like a horror movie. The thought of entering somebody’s head and forcing them to watch as you live out the rest of their life for them seems like the worst human rights abuse imaginable, like rape and slavery combined. But nobody in the film has even the slightest qualm about what they’re doing to the title character. I can admire a film like that, but enjoying it is really, really hard.
If there’s any attempt I can make to tie all this together, I will say that I’m trying to figure out what I want out of my entertainment. Some of my favorite TV shows are like televised crack. The Battlestar Galactica reboot comes to mind. For the first season and a half, it was possible to blaze through four or five episodes in a single sitting without even thinking about it. They’re not all like that. Mad Men is a phenomenal show, but I wouldn’t call it addictive. Two, maybe three episodes at a time is about all I can take with that one. I would say something similar about Louie, although that’s a half-hour show so it’s a little easier to take, as surreal and bizarre as it can get.
For no apparent reason, here’s Neil DeGrasse Tyson taking down UFO mythology. There are phenomena worth exploring. They’re just not the ones you first think of.