Once in a Lifetime

 

I’ve never made friends quickly. You all should know that by now. At my previous job, my boss told me that I seemed to have put up a shell around myself. That’s not entirely true, but he meant well. I heard recently that he walked out of the store he’d been transferred to because the district manager is a total bitch. I flatter myself that I might have started a bit of a trend by walking out when I did. I wasn’t the first person to walk out, but still. They started a dangerous precedent by pushing good people out, and anyway, I didn’t come here to gloat. I’ve learned by now that what they say about living well being the best revenge is true. It doesn’t mean that the bad guy always gets his comeuppance. Oftentimes, they kinda just drift away. Most of the time, they never learn their lesson. They go on being shitty, and the most you can hope for is that the people around them realize what shits they are and keep their distance. But they don’t ever just go away.

It was a big decision when I decided to be a blogger instead of a vlogger or whatever. I have a very animated speaking style and a rather distinctive voice, but I would prefer not to go on camera. I don’t like having my picture taken. Sometimes I think I might have fit right in in one of those cultures where they believe that having your picture taken robs you of your soul or something like that. Then again, maybe not. I’m not a Luddite (it’s actually a common myth that the Luddites were anti-technology, but never mind); I just try to resist the temptation of going with trends. That’s why I’ve always felt so out of my own time. I know that we all like to think of ourselves as special snowflakes, and that’s great. But there are a lot of people out there who don’t think of themselves as ordinary who, to my eyes, appear rather conventional. I don’t believe that’s entirely subjective. I think that most people are boring, and that interesting people come in all shapes and sizes. There’s nothing wrong with being boring, I suppose. It’s all in what you want out of life.

cybermenIt’s frustrating, working in a medium that doesn’t provide you with any immediate gauge as to what people think. Actually, I think that might be a strength. Facebook has the “like” button, and actually, so does this blog. But it’s not like there are message boards where people discuss my stuff at length. If they did, I probably wouldn’t read it because I need my headspace. That’s the problem with the internet: it’s all just nerds with opinions. I still don’t understand why so many Whovians hate “Nightmare in Silver” so much. I remain convinced that it’s the best Cybermen storyline since “Earthshock”, not that the competition is particularly steep. It’s definitely overstuffed and yeah, the kids are kind of annoying, but it also has some arresting visuals, a great performance by Matt Smith, and some of the snappiest dialogue the show ever produced. (“I trust the Doctor.” “Are you saying he knows what he’s doing?” “I’m not sure I’d go that far.”) For once, the Cybermen act like Cybermen (sort of proto-Borg, although I don’t know if there’s any truth to the rumor that they inspired the Borg) rather than substitute Daleks. Go Gaiman.

There’s nobody I agree with 100% of the time. This leads me to believe that nobody is right 100% of the time except for me. But seriously, I do believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. I believe in subjectivity as well; I just think that while most human beings might, on some level, be more or less the same, that doesn’t mean you have to get along with everyone, and it’s okay to think somebody’s a shithead if they’ve wronged you. I guarantee that there are folks out there who think I’m a shithead, although I think most of them are shitheads too, so I guess it kind of evens out. There’s no bigger waste of time, in my opinion, than trying to make friends with everyone. A lot of my idols probably wouldn’t have much to say to me if they met me. Then again, maybe they would and I just need to get a little bit better at making overtures.

I’ve always believed that endings aren’t bad so long as you get to end things on your own terms. I talked to an asshole on an online dating site just now who couldn’t believe that I choose to work in retail and customer service jobs despite having degrees from two of the best universities in the world. Well, I am a smart motherfucker. Right now, I need my headspace, that’s all. You can’t get back at everyone who has hurt you. Robert, the near-sociopath who screwed me out of my living situation about two years ago, is probably living quite comfortably now. Whether or not he’s happy is debatable. I’m not very happy, but it’s all in how you define happiness, isn’t it?

In case it’s not obvious, I’m signing off here. I’ve cranked out these last few posts in what could be considered a binge (albeit the tamest binge in the entire history of the word) because sometimes, you just want to get it over with. Oh no, don’t take that the wrong way. I’m glad I did this shit. I used to think that you needed to have all your shit figured out before you ended something, but it turns out you don’t. Is death the only part where that happens? I don’t know. But it’s not as scary as it looks. Not that I plan on doing it anytime soon.

I’ll leave you with something silly. I’m still kind of a funnyman despite spending most of my time here sharing Deep Thoughts. See ya around.

The Desolation of Robot King

DERP

Dumbface.

I’ve always been more of a Daily Show person than a Colbert Report person. I guess I just like my humor a little more straightforward. In case anyone has noticed, I’ve tried writing this post several times before, having put something up and taken it down at least twice before. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm. I don’t usually write like this, but these past few weeks have been a bit tumultuous. You ever have those days where you wake up wanting to watch the whole world burn? Yeah, I’ve been having a little bit of that lately. It’s a combination of financial stress, time-management problems, and the interpersonal friction that can happen when you spend prolonged amounts of time around the same group of people. I’m trying to remember the line from that David Foster Wallace speech I’ve posted once or twice: “This is water.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it or check YouTube. I don’t feel like linking to it again.

chris rockI’m having more trouble going to bed lately. I like to think of myself as a morning person, but since I can’t just go to bed after getting home late in the evening, I always need a few hours to unwind, meaning that I typically go to bed around 1 am these days. This needs to stop. I just can’t seem to turn my brain off, and on countless occasions, I’ve gone to bed, then gotten up to watch some silly YouTube video or something that I thought about watching earlier but didn’t get around to. How does something that tiny lodge itself so deeply in your brain? Sometimes that happens multiple times in a night and I overcompensate by staying up until 1:30 or 2 as if to say, “What do you want from me?” I’ve missed one or two shifts at my new job because I keep misreading my schedule and it makes me furious. I need every dollar I can get, yet more than once, I have come in to work only to find that I’m supposed to stay later than I thought (but still have to leave early because I already made plans) or gotten a call from my supervisor saying that I was supposed to come in today. I am very, very careful in copying down my schedule every week, yet somehow, that still happens. What the fuck, universe?

I’m generally pretty reliable when it comes to shit like this. I have locked myself out of my car (once), locked myself out of my apartment (once), and recently locked myself out of my locker at the gym for the first time. (I had to get somebody else to run and get an employee because I couldn’t go running out there in just a towel.) Something is out of joint. I know nobody’s perfect, but there’s a reason I solve jigsaw puzzles for fun and write a blog that’s all about hating humanity: it’s because I’m a perfectionist. Specifically, I’m an INFJ with OCD, and yes, I have used that line before. One on hand, maybe it means that I’ll save the world that day. Because I do see things that other people don’t see. I often tell other people that they are wrong about something despite having less firsthand knowledge of the subject than they do. And you know what? I’m usually right.

My supervisor doesn’t even seem to much mind that I keep screwing up my schedule. That’s not the point. When I was doing theater back in high school and didn’t get a part I wanted, my mother thought I was being a spoiled diva by storming around the house. She didn’t get it, either, which is part of the reason why I keep my distance from her these days. I was angry at myself for not getting a role that I was certain I could have played. It wasn’t my fault; the director liked someone else and there was nothing I could do about it. (The dude did fine in the role, by the way, but I was kind of competitive with him. He’s a nice fellow, but kinda boring. I’m not.) When I turned on my phone today and saw that I had a voicemail, I prayed that it was my mother for the first time ever. Of course, it wasn’t. I’ve had enough of a hassle working with my student loans and trying to get my employment situation straightened out. It might actually be nice to get a message from her saying, “Call me sometime. Bye.” Because I don’t have to worry about that, you see.

I’m going to have to see The Hobbit sometime, probably next week. What I’ve heard about it is that it’s the worst of the three, which is kinda depressing considering the lukewarm opinion I had of the first two. What happened to the Peter Jackson who was both a technical wizard and a strong storyteller? Neither of those elements are on display in these films. They are bloated and overlong, and they look like video games. I guess he just got carried away with himself. Stephen Colbert is, like, the biggest Tolkien nerd on the planet. I love Tolkien, but I don’t feel the need to know everything about him. Colbert’s humor is more “out there” than Stewart’s ever was. When one of his bits flops, I often find myself scratching my head wondering what he was even going for in the first place. Since the news is filtered through the lens of the character he plays, it’s not as grounded. Stewart just reacts to the news; Colbert tries to insert himself into it. It’s funny, though.

I like to think of what I’m going through these days as nothing more than growing pains. I’ve asked a couple friends for financial assistance and we’ll see if I get it. Just don’t feel sorry for me, that’s all. I have enough problems of my own. I can’t carry yours around, too.

Why the Doctor Should Be an Old White Man

Let’s talk about social justice for a second. The term “social justice warrior” has become something of a slur on the internet. I don’t see the shame in it, personally. It’s like using “feminazi” as an insult. Obviously, invoking Nazism to deride someone you don’t like is wrong, but since the real insult there is that somebody thinks women deserve equality, I’m not sure why this is supposed to be offensive. If being an SJW means believing that it is wrong to exclude people based on race, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, nationality, or what have you, then call me an SJW. Call me a feminazi if it please you. I butt heads with my fellow feminists on certain things because there are times when I feel that taking a stand is somewhat pointless. That, in case you can’t tell, is what I’ve gathered you here to talk about. The Doctor is not the President. He doesn’t have to represent the diversity of his own viewership. It might be nice, but it’s hardly necessary to make him a woman or a person of color. In fact, it’s probably better if we don’t. Here’s why.

Doctor Who has been around for 50 years. Like any other cultural institution, it has a certain value and aesthetic that cannot be separated from the time in which it was created. The Doctor travels around in a police box, something that existed only in a very specific time and place. He travels primarily with young women from contemporary England, and his relationship with them is usually a bit paternalistic, perhaps even a tiny bit condescending. You can like or dislike it, but those elements are hardwired into the DNA of the show. Take them away and it’s not Doctor Who, just as a James Bond who isn’t cocky, cool, and kind of a misogynist isn’t James Bond or a Sherlock Holmes who is warm and fuzzy and a feminist isn’t really Sherlock Holmes. People believe that in order to update the show and make it accessible to the new generation, we need to change its values. But Doctor Who isn’t gay marriage. It’s not your right. It’s not even a privilege. It’s a thing you can watch or not watch. That’s why it’s art: because it doesn’t give a fuck whether you like it or not. If it did, it wouldn’t be art.

I’ve gotten mocked for making this argument before. People say that since Doctor Who is really about change, we should embrace the change and all that that implies. By that logic, the Doctor should be played by a Chihuahua and the show should consist of him driving around in a Porsche and sniffing other dogs’ shit. Don’t give me any of that “that’s not what I meant” crap; it’s what you said, so stand by it or fuck off. You can’t separate the English-ness of the show from the show itself. It’s a shamelessly romantic portrait of an England that hasn’t existed for a long time and probably never did to begin with. If you don’t buy into that, don’t watch the show. You don’t get a vote. This isn’t democracy. It’s art. Part of the reason I have to distance myself from the fanbase is the invidious notion that so many of the entitled fuckwits have gotten into their heads that since they would like to see a female or black Doctor, they should get to see a female or black Doctor. No. It’s not the show’s job to give you what you want.

Doctor Who has disappeared up its own ass in recent years. It’s no longer about pushing forward but about running in circles. Every other episode is about revisiting something that happened in a previous storyline or going back to the Doctor’s childhood or bringing back a beloved old character for one last go-round (until they decide to bring back that character again for yet another go-round). When will this end? Moriarty is in a grand total of two of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories. Know why? Because once he’s gone over Reichenbach Falls, that’s it. There’s nothing left to say about him once that’s done. He doesn’t exist just to give definition to Sherlock. Sherlock isn’t the center of the universe. Moriarty is a criminal mastermind and when Sherlock foils some of his plans, he decides he has to take Sherlock out. It’s that simple. They’re not destined to be together, and I get so tired of those introspective moments where the villain says “We’re not so different, you and I” while the hero has to wonder if he’s really a good man or not. I think Sherlock is a good man. I think the Doctor is, too. Can we accept that and move on? People change, I know, but it’s the present that matters. At present, I don’t like Doctor Who or Sherlock. So I don’t watch either show. Funny how that works.

In case it’s not obvious, I was pretty steamed when I wrote this. I’m angry about a lot of things right now. I’m also stressed out, because I’ve got a really busy week coming up and I’m wondering how I’ll be able to pay my bills, do my job(s), and still find the time to see my friends. Typical adult stuff, I guess. I don’t want to be a parent. God bless those of you who like kids, but I don’t and I never will. It’s just not for me. I can’t change the fact that Darren Wilson and the dude who killed Eric Garner got off for what was quite simply murder just because people don’t want to face up to the deep and pervasive sickness of racism. And for the Spike Lee fans out there, let me just say that Mookie did the right thing. That anger had to go somewhere. You can’t just watch a cop murder somebody, shrug, say, “That’s unfortunate”, and go home. You just can’t.

Maybe I’m just tired of spending all my time in the arts. I need something to think about other than media representations of various groups of people. Sometimes a show is just a show. And if I don’t enjoy it, I don’t enjoy it. That’s my business. But it won’t stop me from whining about it. In the name of God, I will do my duty.

A Breakup of Sorts

capaldiI just made kind of an important decision. If you know me or read this blog at all, you know about my obsession with Doctor Who. You also know that I fucking hate Steven Moffat, who has been the showrunner on Doctor Who for the last few seasons and is the co-creator of the BBC’s Sherlock, which reimagines the Holmes stories in present-day London. I’m not going to recount all of the shit I’ve said about him up until this point. Go read some of my previous posts if you want to hear about that. Or read what some other people are saying about him, because he’s a pretty polarizing figure. So what is this big decision? I’ve decided to stop watching Doctor Who.

It’s not that big of a surprise, when you think about it. Season three of Sherlock was so stupid I decided not to watch season four. (How did Milverton not realize that Sherlock would shoot him? If he doesn’t keep hard or even electronic copies of his blackmail shit, then that’s all you have to do, right? Besides, it’s not like he has an endgame. He just likes fucking with people. So kill the bastard.) I had been checking in with the new season of Who only intermittently, anyway, as I found Capaldi’s 12th Doctor to be, while still an improvement upon the 11th, more grating than charming. You have to walk a fine line in presenting that kind of character. The basic idea behind the 12th Doctor is that he’s an arrogant, manipulative asshole, but one who still has a strong moral code and turns out to be right more often than not. Boy, that sounds a lot like Sherlock, doesn’t it?

cumberbatchThe problem is that the Doctor’s/Sherlock’s moral code is becoming increasingly flexible. In season 2, Sherlock drugs Watson and traps him in a lab just so he can monitor how he acts when he thinks a hound is chasing him. In “Mummy on the Orient Express”, the Doctor takes Clara along on a farewell journey without telling her that he knows there is a monster on board because some mysterious presence has been trying to get him to come aboard for a while now. At the end of season three of Sherlock, Mycroft forgives Sherlock for his crimes and allows him to return to England after a four-minute exile because his country needs him. At the end of “Mummy on the Orient Express”, Clara forgives the Doctor for lying to her and decides to keep traveling with him even though she has a job and a man waiting for her at home. Because everything worked out all right, see, and the ends justify the means.

Except they don’t. I’ve had this argument many times, so let me see if I can distill what I’m trying to say here. In “The Day of the Doctor”, the Doctor travels back in time along with previous incarnations of himself to stop himself from pushing the button that will destroy Gallifrey and the Time Lords but also end the war with the Daleks. I don’t think real life is that convenient. People tell me I’m cynical for rolling my eyes at that, but isn’t teaching people that there’s always an option that saves everybody’s life and doesn’t have any negative consequences the most cynical lesson of all? To backup: Doctor Who was rebooted in 2005. The showrunner then was Russell T. Davies, who decided to make the new Doctor (the 9th overall, because he’s an alien who can regenerate and grow a new body when injured) the last of his kind. It’s a familiar trope, but the show ran with it. In the original series, the Doctor had had frequent run-ins with his fellow Time Lords and he rarely got along with them. In the new series, there were no fellow Time Lords (well, except for a scattered few, but never mind that) for him to clash with. It seemed like a step forward.

But then Steven Moffat decided to undo that last year. It used to be that the 9th Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, was the last of his kind (almost). But thanks to some timey-wimey paradoxes, his story has been rewritten so that he and his subsequent regeneration only think they’re the last of the Time Lords. Some people will say that it doesn’t matter, and that all that matters is how they react to what they know. Bull. The Fuck. Shit it doesn’t. Whether my mother is really my mother or a pod person who has been replaced by the Body Snatchers makes a whole lot of difference to me. Likewise, whether the Doctor really blew up his own planet to stop a war with the Daleks (the most evil race in the entire galaxy) or just thought he did makes a fuckload of difference. I’m not interested in any rationalizations. Russell T. Davies had an annoying tendency to bring people back from the dead, but at least he made you feel their deaths. The only episode Moffat has ever written for Who that I liked was his two-parter back in season one, and that was due more to Eccleston’s charisma and the introduction of Jack Harkness (a character Davies created) than anything else.

The Doctor can be a lot of things: outgoing yet lonely, funny yet distant, brilliant but impatient. It’s a difficult balance to pull off. Yet there should still be warmth there. Eccleston’s Doctor could be a real dick, but he was suffering from PTSD, and I’ll be damned if there weren’t moments where I wanted to hug him. With Capaldi’s Doctor, they seem to have been going for the asshole-who-kinda-has-a-point vibe and missed. That vibe is more suited to antiheroes anyway (think Ben Linus), and the Doctor isn’t an antihero; he’s a hero. Capaldi’s doing fine with the character, but I’m checking out. Let me know when Moffat leaves. At least there’s a big backlog to work through.

Games People Play

I have a hard time just uprooting myself and moving to another place. I get too attached to my current place, even if I was the one who was trying to move all along. I’m getting settled in my new place (or at least trying to) and it’s difficult, because I keep going back to my old neighborhood (sometimes even popping by my parents’ place for a little while when they’re not around) just so I can eat at a place I liked or something. Hopefully, that will dissipate with time, because I still go by my old college town semi-regularly and, when I moved from Manhattan to Queens, I kept going back to Manhattan, often just to hang out for a while. (Also to get away from my psychotic roommate. My current roommate mainly just lies on the couch and watches TV, so we’re getting along okay so far.) What I’m saying is: I’m lonely, please smother me with compliments. No seriously, what I’m saying is: Change is hard.

auditionI think part of the reason I’ve been watching more horror movies over the past couple years is that I’m trying to learn my limits. I’m not sure why some stuff disturbs me or just turns me off and other stuff doesn’t. I got through Audition okay. I’m not sure how much I liked it, but I can see that there was craft involved. I really didn’t like Eraserhead. Whether or not that is a horror film is debatable, but David Lynch has never been easy to categorize, so I feel we might as well call some of his films horror. Eraserhead in particular is polarizing. As somebody else said, nobody has ever walked out of that film saying, “It was okay, but…” It’s a movie that tries as hard as it can to nauseate you and make you feel really weird and icky, and it succeeds, I suppose, but I have no idea what the fucking point of that was. Strangely enough, I had no problem sitting through The Lords of Salem and Saw. (I didn’t like Saw, but it wasn’t hard to watch.) I found the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre to be a well-made film that I have no desire to see again. Its influence is undeniable, but again, what was the takeaway?

Maybe I’m trying too hard to find meaning or subtext in everything. I don’t know. What I do know is that I can’t seem to find the time for everything that I want to do. The result is that my brain feels very crowded, which is frustrating, because it means that I have to tell the screaming voices up here that they can’t always get what they want, and they don’t like that very much. It makes them scream louder, which is upsetting to me, because I miss the days where I could wake up, do shit for a while, and then go to bed without feeling as if my gray matter was going to break through my skull and plaster itself all over my wall. Like I said, it’s noisy up here. My mother told me she’s worried that I’m spending too much time alone, which might be true, but her announcing it to me as if it just occurred to her struck me as her trying to take credit for something that I already acknowledged. I still don’t know who reads this thing, but I’ll keep typing as long as anybody cares.

I have a lot of projects right now. I also have a lot of little errands to run and tasks to perform, from changing my address on my Economist subscription to checking on the status of my voter registration. (I was supposed to get a voter’s guide a little while back, but I still haven’t gotten it. Maybe my registration didn’t go through or something? I don’t know. I did it on the DMV’s website. It would be a bummer to miss out on the midterms, because if there’s one thing that drives me nuts, it’s voter apathy. The Democrats benefit when more people vote; the GOP benefits when only their people vote. Which strategy is more sustainable in the long term?)

I am definitely starting to think that there is such a thing as a Red State Liberal. I read a book last year called The Cross in the Closet by Timothy Kurek. It was a powerful, if slightly obvious memoir by a conservative Christian from Nashville who decided to spend a year living as a gay man to see what it was like. Of course, what he realized was that gay people and straight people aren’t all that different, labels don’t matter, blah blah blah, but the point is that even though Mr. Kurek and I probably wouldn’t agree on too many things political or theological, I think that’s just because we’re coming at it from different angles. Red State Liberals (not that Kurek is one, I’m just saying) and I might agree on political or religious things and still have fundamentally different worldviews. With Tim Kurek, it’s exactly the opposite. He wasn’t trying to figure out what it was like to be gay, just to understand why sexuality is such a big deal to some people. Since he had once been a homophobe himself, even calling a gay boss of his a faggot in front of customers, it’s obvious that he’s done a 180 on what he used to believe, and I applaud him for that.

Fall is my second-favorite month. Winter is my favorite. It’s tangential, but I think The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s most underrated plays. I’d put it just below Lear and Antony and Cleopatra. I like romances. This has been your stream of consciousness for now. I’m going to bed.

winter's tale2