Weekly Rochester Events #355: Descartes Thinks Not

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Since I spent all of last week resting (i.e. recovering from sciatica) and pretty much doing nothing, I figured I should watch a bunch of movies and all those extras on every DVD: Where's Marlowe?, Office Space, Jaws, Almost Famous, Catching Out, Napoleon Dynamite, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Weird Al Yankovic: The Videos, Leprechaun 4: In Space, and Jacob's Ladder.

I was itching to get out like I usually do: in 10 days, I left the house three times, my parents came by twice for a while, my neighbor was nice enough to bring over soup, and a friend stopped in for an hour or so. This most recent Saturday was the worst ... I was dying to go out, but I really couldn't walk around much at all. The best I could do was a pale imitation: watching video of The Purrs from Monty's Krown (875 Monroe Ave.) that I shot back in February 2002 (I had posted a clip of the Purrs song "Boys" from it.)

Not like the world didn't throw its share of curve balls, either.

The most mundane was that my SprintPCS cell phone has been acting up: when someone calls, they hear 4 rings and then voice mail as if I wasn't there, but my phone doesn't even register the call. Come to find out, this is something Sprint thinks is "normal:" when you turn your phone on it registers as active on the tower and through the network. On receiving a call, if the tower knows your phone is on, it tells the caller that the phone is ringing — even if the phone is out of range or the tower doesn't have any available channels to broadcast the call request. Thus, they did nothing. Of course, they "are sorry to learn that [I] have an unresolved issue as [my] satisfaction is very important to [them]" and "a Sprint representative will contact [me] via [my] PCS phone at no charge ... to assist [me]."

Good luck connecting that call, dipshits.

Next, I had checks to get into the bank (and I managed to get to my car which I was very proud of.) I went to Advantage Federal Credit Union (1625 Mount Hope Ave.) across the street but I couldn't make a deposit to Summit ... I realized, "duh: I'm in the car, not on foot" so I drove to Summit Federal Credit Union (3333 W. Henrietta Rd., in Southtown Plaza) I filled out a new deposit envelope and was all set, but the ATM ate my card: it had expired. Fuck. By then I was starting to get sore again so I had to go back home.

On Sunday I tried cautiosly to do some activities around the house so I started some laundry. I managed to finish washing the first load and put it in the dryer then started the second. I noticed that it was being awfully quiet: especially since I was drying a sleeping bag with some tennis shoes to keep it fluffed up. Now mind you, I've been using this washer and dryer for 6 years or so without any problems, yet as soon as I'm incapacitated, it's time for the dryer belt to break. Fuck. I figured I'd have to schlep everything to the laundromat in the next few days and probably really screw up my back again.

Of course, there's also the bizarre side-effects of the Methylprednisolone I was taking ... sort of a steroid to reduce swelling in my spinal disc to get things back to normal. And by bizarre, I'm referring of course to "frank psychotic manifestations." I guess I can't be too sure about all the things that went wrong or the people who visited, now can I?


Who said that?

Psychic derangements may appear when corticosteroids are used, ranging from ... to frank psychotic manifestations
Precautions ... I'll say!

Monday I started to get my shit together, though. I looked up some sciatica information online and found that they recommend activity rather than rest to recover faster. I started doing exercises and walking around a bit. I found my new ATM card and put the money in the bank. On Tuesday I went to Benfante Appliance Service (1286 Mount Hope Ave.) and got a new dryer belt — $20 seems awfully steep to me, but whatever — and got it installed myself that night. I started walking longer distances and managed to make it to Genesee Bakery (1677 Mount Hope Ave.) and back on Wednesday night (a whopping 3/10 mile for those keeping track.)

So anyway, let me start into another hugely long essay instead of blogging like an old man and his back problems.

I was thinking about art projects, artists, consensus, collaborations, the "creators" in the world à la Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, and how that all relates to Napoleon Dynamite and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I've been talking with a friend of mine for years about this kind of thing (well, except for the movies) and I said I was going to try and tie it all together in this week's essay.

See, she and I have been trying to figure out how to make collaborative art projects work. She's had more experience leading them and I've seen some that succeed and some that fail. Every project — no matter how "collaborative" it may seem — starts as the vision of one person. That vision develops over time and at some point they are ready to try and bring it to fruition. Each person has their own idea of how that vision will manifest, but it's the originator of the idea who can look at the facets of the project and determine which need to be completed a specific way and which are comparitively unimportant or irrelevant.

OK, so let me start by saying that I listened to the commentary track on the DVD for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind so I am therefore a defacto expert on the intentions of both the writer Charlie Kaufman and the director and co-writer Michel Gondry. That's how damn important I am, so you better listen.

The central plot revolves around Jim Carrey's character Joel electing to have the memory of his ex-girlfriend (Clementine, played by Kate Winslet) "erased," partially retaliating for her having his memory erased. As the procedure is done, his mind is working its way backward through his memories of her, and he gets back to the things that he loved about her and about the relationship. He tries in vain to hold onto those memories as they are viscerally removed from his mind. It's a story of love and what it really is, and that concept is very effectively conveyed through this unique setting.

When Kaufman wrote the script, he had certain things in mind as to which aspects of the story were important and which were not. Gondry spent the time to understand what those things were and embraced them himself. Through Gondry's good direction (both in the filmmaking context and in the the more general context of leading a group of people to a common goal) he managed to maintain Kaufman's ideas and create a visual experience that successfully conveyed them. But consider how a different director might have approached the film: they might have spent a considerable amount of time trying to explain exactly how the memory-erasing machine actually works; or they might have turned it into more of a horror-like nightmare where Joel's memories are erased in a more traumatic manner.

In either case, the film would not be the same as the version presented — and it would likely be something inferior, especially if Kaufman's motives were not understood. My point is that to make the film as good as it is, it was very important to follow the vision — the central idea — that Kaufman had laid out.

So back to collaborative projects in general ...

The originator of the idea should be ready to execute the project. That is, they should understand what their project is to the point that they can make decisions about whether a particular facet of it has some specific and important way it needs to be accomplished or whether that facet is relatively unimportant and can be handled any number of ways. In cases where something is important, the originator needs to convey that it is critical to succeeding in conveying the original idea.

Contributors seem to come in two basic flavors, and both are valued for their creativity.

The "ideal" collaborator respects the originator as the ultimate authority — they accept that the originator may have seemingly arbitrary requirements but tries their best to fulfill those wishes as accurately as they can. They are there to facilitate the realization of the idea of the originator, and are able to put their own egos and ideas aside (for the moment) to complete the project at hand.

There are also a lot of not-so-good collaborators who bring their own ideas along and try to usurp the project from the hands of the originator. It's not so much that they're sinister and greedy in their mindset — more like clueless. They feel that a collaborative project is one where everyone contributes their own ideas and those ideas — any ideas — are just as good than those of the originator. They simply don't comprehend that there are some facets to the project that are critical to complete in a certain way to ensure that the ideas of the originator are actually conveyed and/or accomplished.

When I mentioned Ayn Rand, I meant to sound really smart even though I have read, like, only one book in the last five years ... er ... I mean, I meant that this kind of thing is very similar to the discussion portrayed in The Fountainhead. There are people who are in love with the concept of consensus — that the ideas that everyone agrees upon are superior to all else, and then there are those in love with the concept that the ideas from one individual shine above the least-common-denominator of consensus of the masses.

See, there is merit in each: when a collaborative project comes along, the solid and important ideas of the originator are better than those of the masses (at least as far as the goals of the project are concerned) yet for the aspects that are unimportant to the originator, consensus is a perfectly valid way to come up with the best solution. In those unimportant cases, the idea of an individual collaborator might even be best and might even improve the quality of the overall project.

Now, Napoleon Dynamite is an okay movie — it documents the writers' Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess' high-school experience in the nether regions of the country ... a place called Idaho. It's popular for its Beavis and Butt-Head level of quotability. It's popular for those people who still take joy in picking on the weird kid. But face it: it's really just a pale imitation of Gummo, except without the sympathy.

The filmmakers not only don't care about any of the characters, they actually invite ridicule. But isn't that innovative filmmaking? Isn't it a reflection of our current society and the state of America — where those who disagree are ridiculed as being unpatriotic?

No, and the reason is that Peluca (the short film that is the basis for Napoleon Dynamite) had a sympathetic eye and is superior for it. In it, Seth — the prototype for Napoleon — is an underdog hero who never gets a break. In Napoleon Dynamite, they throw in an homage to The A-Team, and as cool as that is, it was simply inserted for the amusement of the filmmakers because they felt their own characters were too boring — ergo no sympathy.

What the hell does this have to do with consensus and artists? It's consensus thinking flipped upside-down: join the crowd — agree with the consensus that this is a great film — or be cast aside. If you remember anything from high school, it's that when it comes to standing up for the weird kid or joining the crowd and picking on him, you better choose the latter lest ye be picked on yerself.

The trouble with that thinking is that the weird kid is the one with ideas ... they're the ones who become the Charlie Kaufman's of the world, or if they're beat down, they become the Henry Darger's. It is these people who have real ideas ... they are the ones who make the world a different and better place.

The point is to celebrate everyone's contribution, not to tolerate their differences. If they are a creator or an originator, then celebrate that. If they are a collaborator, then celebrate that. And don't forget that those roles switch in-and-out all the time: today's collaborator is tomorrow's originator, and vice versa.

  • De Zaak Alzheimer (The Memory of a Killer, at The Little) - A hit man battles Alzheimer's to enact revenge on the people who sent him to kill a 12-year-old girl.
  • Capote (at The Little) - The story of Truman Capote's development of the story of killers in Kansas.
  • The Weather Man - A weatherman takes no joy in his faux fame.

Fly the flag today.Navy Day

This afternoon at The First Universalist Church of Rochester (150 South Clinton Ave.) is another Eastman at Washington Square titled Prelude to a Fugue — Part One. [source: Freetime]

Tonight in the Golisano Auditorium, Room 1400 in Building 70 at RIT (One Lomb Memorial Dr., campus map) is a screening of Wegmans Cruelty, at 7 p.m. with a filmmaker discussion following. [source: RIT Events Calendar site]

JayceLand Pick This evening at 7:15 p.m. in Morey Hall, Room 321 at The University of Rochester (Elmwood Ave. at Intercampus Dr., details on River Campus Map) is a screening of Young Soul Rebels. [source: University of Rochester Events Calendar]

The Hounds of HellMySpace link will be at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: WITR calendar]

JayceLand Pick Fun punk-rock band The Flour City KnuckleheadsGarageBand linkMySpace link, solidly good punk band The Sweatshop BoysMySpace link, The Dead PetsGarageBand linkMySpace link, and great, wild, classic-style punk from DestruxMySpace link will be at Monty's Krown (875 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:30 p.m. [source: Freetime] [21+]

Pure Kona Poetry Open Mic Night is at Daily Perks (389 Gregory St.) tonight starting at 7:30. [source: Daily Perks calendar] [all ages]

Apparently The Critical Mass Bike Ride is tonight starting at 5:30 p.m. at the clock tower near The Wilson Commons at The University of Rochester (Library Road, #39 on River Campus Map.) to The Liberty Pole (1 Liberty Pole Way) at 6 p.m. and heading through the city from there. [source: the proverbial grapevine]

JayceLand Pick Tonight and tomorrow is Ghost Walk starting at Third Presbyterian Church (4 Meigs St., at the corner of East Ave.) every 10 minutes from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. [source: Landmark Society e-mail] [all ages]

Tonight at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m. at Downstairs Cabaret (172 West Main St.) is a special reading titled The Black Heart which weaves together Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat and The Tell-Tale Heart. [source: Downstairs Cabaret calendar]

Tonight at Daily Perks (389 Gregory St.) is NativSun starting around 8 p.m. [source: Daily Perks calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Les Revenants (They Came Back) starting at 8 p.m. about a French town where the dead return to their homes and jobs. Initially a curiosity, they quickly become a nuisance and are placed in "refugee camps." [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at 7 p.m. at A|V Art Sound Space (#8 in the Public Market, off N. Union St., formerly The All-Purpose Room) is the opening of When Pulse Becomes Pitch by Andrew Johnson and David Tinapple. The show runs through November 13. [source: artsound website] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Updated: Over at Bush Mango Drum & Dance (34 Elton St.) is a Halloween Dance Party starting at 7 p.m. [source: Bush Mango website]

The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Night of the Living Dead starting at 8 p.m. The original classic ... a 35mm print of the uncut, original version will be screened. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at 8 p.m. at Monty's Korner (363 East Ave.) is the Rockin' Halloween Hurricane Bash to benefit The Salvation Army and The International Fund for Animal Welfare featuring AKA the Blues, The StraightawaysMySpace link, and good, Irish-slanted, fun punk band Tom Foolery and the Shenanigans. [source: WBER calendar]

Starry Nites Café (696 University Ave., formerly Moonbeans) will be hosting the great harmonizing duo Red Branch starting around 9 p.m. [source: Starry Nites calendar] [all ages]

InherenceMySpace link, DowndrivenMySpace link, and CrucifistMySpace link will be at The Montage Grille (50 Chestnut St.) for their Halloween Blood Bash starting around 10 p.m. [source: Montage calendar]

Over at Monty's Krown (875 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:30 p.m. is Ween cover band The Peachy NeachysMySpace link (at least for today) performing their The HalloWEEN Show. [source: band e-mail]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. is Nuts and Bolts Improv Troupe (see their site at ImprovAmerica too) performing Improv Hell, a special Halloween show at Downstairs Cabaret (172 West Main St.) [source: Nuts and Bolts e-mail]

Top Pick Over at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:45 p.m. is the Annual Bug Jar Halloween Party featuring awesome punk-rock from The QUiTTERSGarageBand linkMySpace link, and high-energy hard rock from Bee EaterGarageBand linkMySpace
link. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [21+]

Tonight's another Betty's Sing-a-Long at Betty Meyer's Bullwinkle Café (622 Lake Ave.) starting around 10.

Daylight Saving Time Ends — Set your clock back one hour from 2:00 a.m. daylight saving time to 1:00 a.m. standard time in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

The photographic exhibit Spanoscopic Visions by Stefan Petranek closes today at 3:30 p.m. at The Community Darkroom at The Genesee Center for the Arts (713 Monroe Ave.) [source: Genesee Center for the Arts calendar]

Photography by Bob Graham titled Chasing Jackson Pollock will be closing tonight at The Sunken Room Gallery at The Genesee Center for the Arts (713 Monroe Ave.) at 4:30 p.m. [source: Genesee Center for the Arts calendar]

This afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. is The Halloween Haunted House at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) [source: Eastman House calendar]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Alien (The Director's Cut) starting at 7 p.m. Another classic ... [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting quite excellent power-rock/metal band The Atomic Bitchwax, well constructed heavy rock/metal from HeatseekerGarageBand linkMySpace link, and tight, technical metal from BMLMySpace link starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [18+]

Starry Nites Café (696 University Ave., formerly Moonbeans) is hosting their weekly Open Mike Poetry tonight at 7 p.m. [source: Starry Nites calendar] [all ages]


Over at Verb Café at Writers and Books (740 University Ave.) is another Wide Open Mike with Norm Davis starting at 7:30 p.m. [source: Writers and Books calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at The Little (240 East Ave.) at 9:15 p.m. is another in the Emerging Filmmakers Series featuring poster: A Combustible Fabrication by John Waterman, I'mmaterial by Dwight Craver, The Mirror by Phil Allocco, The Empty Building by Giovanni Sanseviero, No Shoulder by Suzi Yoonessi, and Husky by Craig Geraghty. [source: Little Theatre calendar]

Bored? Why not check out 1980's DJ night at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 11 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Kurutta Ippeji (A Page of Madness) starting at 8 p.m. From the Eastman calendar:

Kinugasa's silent film milestone — the Japanese equivalent of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari — tells the tale of a husband struggling to connect with his insane wife within the harrowing asylum where she lives and he works as a janitor. Disturbing and daring, the film was considered lost for more than 40 years, until the director discovered a single nitrate copy hidden in a rice bin. The Museum's print, which features a music soundtrack, comes from this precious source.

[source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) is The Dirty Faces, and 1980's-style rock-and-roll band Tiger Cried BeefMySpace link starting around 9:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar] [18+]

Not ready for mainstream Daily Perks (389 Gregory St.) is hosting an Acoustic Open Mic from 8 to 10. For this one, there's no microphones and it's pretty open ended. [source: Daily Perks calendar] [all ages]

Tonight at 5 p.m. in Morey Hall Room 314 at The University of Rochester (Elmwood Ave. at Intercampus Dr., details on River Campus Map) is a screening of Le grand blanc de Lambaréné (The Great White of Lambarene). [source: University of Rochester Events Calendar]

Tonight at Nextstage at Geva (75 Woodbury Blvd.) at 7 p.m. is the first of their Theatre Insights lectures titled Mad About the Boy by Malcolm Jones about Noel Coward. [source: Geva Theatre website]

JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Fatso starting at 8 p.m. Dom DeLuise plays an overweight overeater looking for a way to slim down. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

JayceLand Pick Tonight at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) is Mrs. Skannotto, and high-energy hard-rock band Bee EaterGarageBand linkMySpace
link starting around 9 p.m. [source: JamBase calendar for Rochester] [21+]

Poor People United meets tonight and every Wednesday at 7 at St. Joseph's House of Hospitality (402 South Ave.) [source: the proverbial grapevine]

There's an Open Mic for Acoustic Music at Boulder Coffee Co. (100 Alexander St.) tonight around 8. [source: the proverbial grapevine] [all ages]

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On this day ... October 27

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About the title ... René Descartes postulated, "I think, therefore I am." He died 355 years ago in 1650.

This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including Monroe County and occasionally the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do. The musical styles listed can include punk, emo, ska, swing, rock, rock-and-roll, alternative, metal, jazz, blues, noise band, experimental music, folk, acoustic, and "world-beat." Events listed take place during the day, in the evenings, or as part of the city's nightlife as listed. Although I'm reluctant to admit it, it is a Rochester blog and I'm essentially blogging about Rochester events. Oh, and it's spelled JayceLand with no space and a capital L, not Jayce Land, Jaycee Land, Jace Land, Jase Land, Joyce Land, Jayce World, Jayceeland, Jaceland, Jaseland, Joyceland, Jayceworld, Jayceeworld, Jaceworld, Jaseworld, nor Joyceworld. (Now if you misspell it in some search engine, you at least get a shot at finding it.) While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, October 27, 2005 (Thu, Oct 27, 2005, 10/27/2005, or 10/27/05) Friday, October 28, 2005 (Fri, Oct 28, 2005, 10/28/2005, or 10/28/05) Saturday, October 29, 2005 (Sat, Oct 29, 2005, 10/29/2005, or 10/29/05) Sunday, October 30, 2005 (Sun, Oct 30, 2005, 10/30/2005, or 10/30/05) Monday, October 31, 2005 (Mon, Oct 31, 2005, 10/31/2005, or 10/31/05) Tuesday, November 1, 2005 (Tue, Nov 1, 2005, 11/1/2005, or 11/1/05) and Wednesday, November 2, 2005 (Wed, Nov 2, 2005, 11/2/2005, or 11/2/05).

JayceLand Pick indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.

Top Pick indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.

GarageBand link links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.

MySpace link links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.

Not ready for mainstream. is an event that is "non-entertainment" for the masses such as practice sessions, open jams, etc.

Fly the flag today. is a day when you should fly the flag according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars calendar.

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