"When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect – but do not believe him. Never put your trust in anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel Laureate, may be wrong... So you must always be skeptical – always think for yourself." --Linus Pauling
K. loves Bruce Lee, zombies, samurai, science fiction, and weird genre stuff enough for any three of the others. She has tattoos and I suspect that one of them is a picture of Meryl Streep with a red circle and slash through her face.
The movie started at 12:20 and I got home at around 2:45. I am writing on just south of three hours sleep. My nerve endings are like live wires, and that's before I started drinking the coffee.
The movie was great. Like all of Joss Whedon's work, it was full of character, action, and shocks. It isn't necessary to have seen the tv show Firefly to enjoy Serenity, but those that have will get even more out of it.
I don't want to say more about the movie at this time. You should be allowed to see it without being spoiled.
(Incidentally, look at that Amazon page for the tv show dvds. It has a five star rating based on 1644 reviews. If you shop Amazon often like I do, you know how rare it is for something to get beyond three or four hundred reviews. Also, said reviews are on the whole very thoughtful and cogent. Which is also a rarity.)
You'll be hearing much more about Serenity in the coming weeks I think. It was far more affecting and surprising than Star Wars: Revenge of the Shit by the way. It certainly has me anxious for a sequel.
As for the writing, well, I am in the process of throwing myself into the thick of it. I am thrashing out ideas for a ground level tv show. It's not for a network or anything. It would be all DIY and use supposed weaknesses as powerful strengths.
Before you ask: No, I don't know what I'm doing. If I did, I wouldn't have any need to do it.
Chills to the bone, eh? Yet still SO TRUE. The heads of my department seem on the whole hugely uninterested in hiring bright people who can do the job. (I was hired by personnel and put in there at the last minute.) We have several substitutes who would love full time employment but when it comes to choosing... my boss is totally bent on always selecting the dullest, most bovine candidates. Any occasion when they don't follow this rule of thumb is cause to celebrate.
Let me make something clear: My job as library clerk is not hard. Being a really good library clerk is nothing to shout about. But it's such a not difficult job to do that you really have to struggle to find someone who can't do it to a professional level.
I get morbid and depressed when I think of all the fascinating work my synapses could be firing over. Then I go to the library and go livid when what a job that should be Grand Theft Lollipop becomes an ordeal because someone else's synapses fire naught but blanks.
Remember when I said that working in Access Services was the hardest job in the library? Well, sometimes I think that on some level that it was just me. Good friend and consumer of umbrella drinks Randall informed me that no, I was correct: Access Services is Hell: Library Division.
More on that stuff some other time.
Right now, I wanted to mention that I have tickets to see Serenity tonight at 12:20 a.m. Gentle Reader, It Is Going To Rule. My favorite review for it so far has been this one by Ken Tucker in New York magazine. Be warned: There are spoilers. Some choice quotes from the review:
Joss Whedon proved in his long run on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (seven seasons) and his short one on Firefly (eleven episodes), he has two distinct yet complementary gifts: He can write quick, gabby banter for an array of heroes and oddballs better than any auteur since Preston Sturges, and he can dramatize the camaraderie within an ensemble better than anyone since Howard Hawks.
Serenity frequently plays like the best sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark that Steven Spielberg never made.
So basically, Mr. Tucker would have you know that Serenity has been perfectly tailored to fit my ever demanding movie watching needs. Which can only be great for the rest of you, barring those perverse individuals who watch Tarkovsky movies for fun.
Earlier this year, I had a dream. Not a dream in the Martin Luther King Jr. sense of the word, but in the "Freudian Wonderland" sense.
For whatever reason, I usually don't remember my dreams. Most of the time it's like I don't even have them. It's just go to bed; nothing, nothing, nothing... and wake up. The joke I tell myself is that I dream so much during the day that my dream center is too tired to bother at night.
Because of the nothing, when I do remember any dreams --I pay attention to them. Examine them for meaning, say. Of course most of them come off like my brain running a regular diagnostic test. There does not seem to be much of anything to parse.
Then... there are the others. The ones where my subconscious seems to step out from behind the curtain and state what it wants me to know in no uncertain terms. This has happened now... three times? Well, twice for sure.
I first noticed the phenomenon when I was twenty. There was a girl I was quite interested in who was still in high school (Shut up). This girl, we'll call her Grace, went on a choir/band trip to Virginia Beach for a competition.
The morning of the day her class arrived at the hotel in Virginia Beach, I had a dream: Singer k.d. lang's face appeared on the palm of my left hand and said, "Today at three o'clock in the afternoon, Grace will have sex with another man." Then I woke up.
The day was spent with me feeling a bit torn. On the one hand, I didn't like the idea of Grace with anyone else. On the other, wouldn't it be supremely weird if my dream turned out to be spot on?
That night, Grace called me up at seven. I immediately told her about my dream and asked her if it was correct. Yes, it was, even down to the time of day. Was I mad with her? Not really. We weren't serious or anything and I was still a bit jazzed over the strange occurrence of the morning.
In fact I was so thrilled that I'd gotten a message from Something, that I paid very little attention to the actual content of what it was telling me. In my youthful naivete I believed the event indicated that Grace and I had some sort of deep connection. Now? I think the dream was meant to serve as a warning to me. (Incidentally, Grace and I are still friends. As for our relationship, it's stayed 3:00 in Virginia Beach ever since.)
Years pass. In May of this year, I had another dream of a very different nature:
It's night. I am outside under the sky standing in the center of a circle.
People surround me on the outer rim. They dance, chant, and beat drums. Some have torches, others swing whirling braziers of fire. The blood of a freshly killed animal is on the wind and in the lungs of everyone present.
I'm scared, and don't know what's happening, or why. Clearly I'm the focus of what's transpiring, but I'm not sure if that's such a good thing.
A shaman enters the circle with me. He's all creeped out in the current fashion of bones and mystic regalia.
The chanting, the dancing, the drumming all build and intensify. My heart slides into an unrelenting Art Blakey solo. Then the shaman speaks. He intones slowly and is not unsure of the words:
You were given a Responsibility.
You are running out of time.
You will not live forever.
BOOM! Everything STOPS, and I wake up. For the next three days I was by turns intrigued and terrified over the dream. My main thoughts were, What the hell was that? and Just how much time do I have?
Which brings us up to Right Now. After much consideration, I have decided that I am going to be quitting my job at the library soonish. I don't know when or how, but before my 36th birthday on June 16th, 2006 for certain; quicker than that when I figure out the means.
Now before you all launch into me, I know what I'm saying sounds bizarre. "How can you afford to quit your job?" Well, um, I can't.
Getting another 'straight job' is also not a solution. The problem with those jobs is that they value conformity over excellence. Try as I might, I am just hopeless at conforming. I stick out like a sore thumb in a sargasso of clawhammers. And frankly? I am thoroughly sick of taking on work that requires me to stifle the best most valuable parts of myself in favor of a bland automaton type 'productivity.'
So no new straight job. Neither do I feel I can afford to ignore either the dream or my gut feeling on this. But do I really have to quit? What purpose does that serve?
It's like this:
Life is short. Every hour spent doing things that bore me senseless and dull my imagination is an hour I'm going to regret on my deathbed. Looking back on even this much life it's never been the stupidly brave things I've done that I regret --always the chances not taken in favor of some foolish sense of security.
Anyway, this post is not about giving answers. I don't have any answers yet. But I am asking the questions right now, and because I've got a big fucking brain I expect that I will come up with some workable answers in time.
(As an aside, do you know what the life of a genius is like? I'll tell you: Everyone goes on and on about how smart so-and-so is... until he or she says something that the other party disagrees with. Then said genius is felt to be misguided or still has a lot to learn. This is true even if both parties agree that one is a genius and the other is not, by the way.)
Jack, I can hear you saying, what is your responsibility anyway? Simple: To be a writer and create. To have the thoughts that others can't and go to the places in my imagination that others would shrink away from.
Maybe it doesn't sound like much to you. But it is all that I have been entrusted with, and it is big enough.
In my more fanciful moments I'd say that the message in my dream was given to me by the gods. More likely, it's just my subconscious making obvious something I already knew on a very deep level. It's no matter either way. As Alan Moore wrote, "The one place gods inarguably exist is in our minds where they are real beyond refute, in all their grandeur and monstrosity."
So there you have it. Do I sound a little pretentious to you? Well, okay then. I warned you at the beginning that I was probably going to sound like an ass. You have only yourself to blame for reading this far. Truthfully, I feel somewhat ridiculous writing about it. But there's a great sense of relief too.
How about that?
Last year on the BBC radio program CHAIN REACTION, Alan Moore interviewed Brian Eno. I listened to it and was amazed, but you can read the transcript of the two geniuses engaged in conversation here. The 'giant man-eating spider' question remains a favorite.