Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hot Stuff, Baby This Evenin'

Sorry. That song got stuck in my head as I sat here, trying to figure out how to post about my evening. Oh, don't get all excited. This is me we're talking about here. First things first:

This is my finished gaiter, both flat on the chaise, and on my person. Enjoy my double chins. It's comfortable, warm, but I can see why they used a finer yarn for the original pattern. It works, don't get me wrong, but it's...chunkier than I think it should be, and it tends to roll. But, hey, it works. And that's what matters.

Now, on to the hot stuff. Much more interesting, in my opinion. I went to see No Country For Old Men this evening because I love the deeply wrong cinema that is produced by the Coen Brothers. Oh, my, in this they did not disappoint! The only reason to abstain from this film is a weak stomach. Seriously. This is one of the best films ever. EVER. I don't usually like Westerns, but this was not your typical Western. The bad guy...yeah, he wore a lot of black, but at the same time, you could see where he was broken off. It was like he was just a stump of a person, a sort of half-remembered ghost of what he might have been. Creepy. Very creepy. And kind of sad in an empty room sort of way.

I have to confess, I'm going to have to read the book, just to see if the book is as bizarre as the movie. Between the sagacious lawman and the oddly Zen hitman ("Don't put the coin in your pocket, or it will just become a coin...which is what it is.") it was a dizzying blur of wit, intelligent (and rather self-indulgent) rumination and spurting blood. My biggest disappointment was in the fake movie blood. Seriously, folks out in Hollywood. Thin that shit out, please? I'm tired of people bleeding what amounts to bright red motor oil. Human blood is water based. Keep that in mind when you next mix up your corn syrup and food dye, yes? The thick stuff makes for good, sticky spatter, but the real stuff isn't quite so viscous. At least, not in anyone with a total blood cholesterol level of under 1,500.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. No Country. If you've read the reviews, you know that basically what happens is a fellow named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles across a rather grisly scene of a drug deal gone bad while out in the desert hunting. Just prior, we see the incredibly deadpan and philosophical hitman, Anton Chigurh, getting arrested with his trusty, air-powered cattle gun, and taken off to jail by a rather neglectful deputy. In short order, Anton frees himself, takes his cattle gun and hies himself off to find another car. Moss, meanwhile, has found and made off with the cash from the drug deal, and rather foolishly comes back to the scene (it's an altrustic action, and one which ultimately he will regret). He gets chased away, but the people who paid the money up front find his truck and send Anton off to find him. All sorts of hijinks and hey-nonny-nonny ensue, as Anton tries to get the cash back for his employers and Llewlyn tries to get away and the rather laconic sherriff follows them both, hoping he'll get to Moss first.

The body count is extremely high, and the cinematography is luminous and golden--very like I'd imagine Texas actually is in dry season. Everyone turns in an incredible performance, even the people who merely walk on and serve as poorly appreciated cannon fodder for Anton's blank faced and silently austere violence. It was incredible to watch, the completely bland way that Chigurgh just...kills. I was going to say kills like it was his job, but hey, it was his job. He put as much visible emotion into it as I put into working my data entry job, which is to say none. The ultimate professional, or, as he himself puts it at one point, "You use the right tool to get the job done." I'm not sure I would refer openly to myself as a tool, but then again, I haven't got a gun that large with a silencer the size of my head, so I suppose my case is different.

The ending was a complete surprise--one that those around me will not be surprised to find I liked. It was ambiguous in the extreme, and the ultimate surprise is who managed to live to fight another day.

But, truly, Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurgh was the highlight of the movie. Despite the fact that he's stated in interviews that he purposely did not try to give the character a backstory in his mind to keep him blank, a total cypher, just watching him gives you a glimmer of what he could have been doing. Llewlyn Moss was in Vietnam (the movie is set in 1980). Dollars to donuts Chigurgh was, too. Or at least served in the military, seeing hard service. There is virtually no other way for someone to get that rather deadpan, slightly bored air when it comes to killing someone up close and personal, as he must do several times. One always gets the feeling that he'd rather be watching television, not because killing is a morally reprehensible act, but because now he's going to have to do laundry again and he just washed this shirt, dammit. It feels like the whole thing is a massive imposition on his time and effort, and not because he's killing and likely to get killed himself, but because he's vaguely bored by the whole thing. It's a character we've never really seen before, and I'm slightly giddy at the newness of it, the excitement of being shown a new critter. I want to go back and see it again, now, just to see if I was imagining it or if there really was this fabulous, rare animal peeking through the branches. God, so exciting. It's been a good long while since I came out of a movie theater excited. Seriously. It's so rare we get anything new....

Well, and I'm really tired. I think I'm going to have a bowl of cereal, order stuff online, then go to bed. And dream sweet, sweet dreams of relentless killers in cowboy boots.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Stuff to remember

No more talking of work. Actually, I have to, if only a little, to explain what I'm going to talk about. Oh, before I start up:

Gaiter--coming along swimmingly, after only one frogging. I cast on the wrong number of stitches. God bless Google--there was a website that explained what I was doing wrong when I entered in my stitch pattern (broken rib, if you want to know.) I should be done soon and will be posting a picture.

I also got a Ravelry account this week. It's a fabulous e-notebook, and handy for people like me, who surf for patterns without a printed yarn and needle inventory at their elbow. If I ever find time to inventory my stash as thoroughly as they seem to think I should!

I'll come back to this topic later. If my post goes as intended, it will tie in.

Anyhow, I was at work today, again being sulky that I simply cannot seem to thrive in a business environment, wondering what was wrong with me that I was not winning friends and influencing people, so to speak, when it struck me. I had just been agonizing with a friend that anywhere you work is going to be rife with politics and bullshit, and how much I hated that, and here I was, upset that I don't thrive in that environment. I finally asked myself, But do I really want to thrive in this type of environment? And all I could answer myself was NO! The subsequent question to myself was, Well, if you don't want to thrive in such environs, why do you take it so personally that you don't? It's not like you really put any effort into it, you don't want it, so why do you get so down on yourself about it?

This goes back to my training as a child. My grandfather, God rest him, was an artist. In modern terms, he was a graphic artist, if I interpret my Mother's recollections of what he did correctly. Anyway, my Grandmother, God rest her as well, had Ambitions and wanted to be a wealthy woman, but as the poor child of a large, Irish brood in the 1910's, she had no option but to marry it. Now, even I know--if you want to be wealthy, if you want a near certain shot at achieving lasting wealth and power, and you must marry for it, you don't marry an artist! But like millions of women even now, she believed she could change my grandfather, make him be what she thought he should be. It didn't work (alas), and when he died, she had to begin working outside the home. This made her very bitter, and the only thing I can think is that she, very like my own mother, God love her, had a sense that life owed her something, or that life should go the way she wanted it to go instead of being Life and, as such, rather capricious about things like how it goes.

So as a little girl, it was over and over impressed upon me that artists were fools, people who attempted to pursue creative lives were idiots who would die poor and lonely. Smart girls got real jobs that involved suits, nylons and high heels, and then married men in pinstripes and bulging pockets and retired to discreet domestic bliss. In particular, she wanted me to be a lawyer and from thence to politics (probably so I could marry the man who would be president.) Hah! I can't stand the bullshit in the boardroom, how would I tolerate it in the courts? Anyway, this is one of those most difficult, inborn, carved-upon-my-psyche things, a value that I held, even as I felt intense guilt over my creativity and desire to spend my time with my toys, making stuff. Oh, I intellectually knew this was silly thinking--Picasso was filthy, and most artists (while not rolling in it) are certainly not unloved, and really, is wealthy my value, or was it hers?

Today, though. Today was the first time I actually felt this. Why do I take it so personally that I can't succeed in business when I don't really care much for business? Why do I get so bent out of shape when at home and in private, I deride those values of profit above all else, including humanity? It's like a saint crying because the sinners don't like him. And I let it go. All that wangsting and being unhappy because I'm not cut out for the power suit and hose. I'm a barefoot princess, a new gen hippy. I'm a free spirit, and there's no cause for crying over that! At least not for me. If her aneurysm hadn't done her in years ago, I'm sure this sort of declaration from me would have killed my grandmother. But for the first time in ages, I feel free. I can set my own values and live by them, I no longer have to live by other's--which is lovely, as my values seem to be stricter--at least as regards professional ethics and the kindly treatment of my fellow man in the workplace.

So I tell my creativity coach about this tonight, and he again urges me to make a mandela or write a prayer or build a ceremony for myself for clarity on what I want my life to be like. I'm drawn to the idea of the mandela, and whenever he suggested I do this exercise before I would come over all shy because I'm not sure how to make a mandela. But today, I decided that, as a Free Spirit, blythe and bonnie and gay, I would make one as I think it should be made. I will make a personal, private Mandela, one that expresses me, and use that to make my intentions plain. I understand the need to learn the form and function of artistic expression, but first you have to let yourself play and express yourself. Once you play, once you've tried your various means of expression, you learn the "proper" ways, and then you figure out improper ways.

I'm excited to begin. There will be glitter. And glue sticks. And clay. Yeah, I like mixed media. But it's not about writing a sonnet, it's about...making something to serve as a sign for me. So it doesn't matter if anyone else gets it. That's just gravy.

So, anyway, at this point, I begin to think Maybe I should cast on for that sweater. The yarn is looking at me with longing, asking to be knit. And as with the gaiter, if I screw up, I can frog and cast on again. There are as many beginnings as I need. And no judgements. Not from me.

And I am glad.