Weekly Rochester Events #408: Shall I Say Freedom Architect and Freedom Explorer?
Thursday, November 2, 2006
On Wednesday I almost went to The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Babe: Pig in the City but decided at the last minute that I really didn't care if I saw the film again or not. I did go out later, though, to go to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) I got to see Coffinberry who are about as hard-hitting as melodic, harmonic, mathish-rock can get. Tiger Cried Beef finished the night with more of their tight rock-and-roll — they play not quite what they are expected to play, you know? Their music is not quite as predictable as its structure would imply.
As a footnote, I tend to take notes on my old Palm Vx using a Fitaly keyboard which — when the light is adequate and the touchscreen is aligned well, it's a pretty fast and accurate entry method. But, you know, sometimes I hate the Fitaly keypad. By typing that quickly, I got, "you know, srmecirmes I hat py Fitaly keyped."
Another random thing is that I did a bunch of errands on Thursday. While out I was at the mall and one of those marketing survey people stopped me. Well, my like of extra-sharp cheddar cheese paid off and I was given two half-pound blocks to sample. Damn. Free cheese. You can't beat that.
That night I went to The Dryden Theater to see two films there. The first was Home Coming which was really quite entertaining. It was about dead American soldiers coming home as zombies from a war that was remarkably similar to the war in Iraq, and they were determined to vote out a regime that is remarkably similar to Bush and company. Although it stayed on the lightweight side of satire, at least it got the soullessness of the war-supporting party correct. The second film was Dead of Night in which, based on the sheer will of his mother, a young man killed in Vietnam returns home "undead" and begins craving blood. This one was much darker and quite good. It amplified the reaction of soldiers who were psychologically devastated that a government they trusted would sacrifice their minds and bodies in a questionable war.
But this got me to thinking: maybe I'm all wrong not believing in the value of the war in Iraq and our President. I mean, I say incredulous things to people — how hydrogen is not a source of energy to replace gasoline, or that there's no such thing as a car that runs on water as fuel — but these things are within my domain of expertise. Now I'm no expert on war. I have this impression that regular people get trained on how to use the equipment (radios, guns, survival gear, food, and so on) and then go to a place where they're told to shoot at these other people. It's really quite simplistic.
See, what I have been missing is that (like my understanding of basic chemistry principles) our military personnel have the basic ability to spot terrorists by sight. I think it's absurd, but what do I know? If I see someone walking toward me on the street I will almost always think they do not mean me harm. It's just foolish "belief in the good will of men" that will get me killed one day because I'd never be able to look at someone and think, "my God: I need to kill them because they are going to kill me." Sure, sometimes I get a "weird vibe" from someone and I distance myself from them, but it's nowhere near certain enough that I would go out of my way to cause them harm.
So what do I know? I go around with my naive view that we should not be making enemies of the whole world, but maybe they already were our enemies and our actions are just bringing that hatred to the surface. Perhaps it is actually true that every Iraqi man, woman, and child killed were (or would have become) terrorists.
Consider the logic of Occam's Razor: that among several competing theories, the simplest among them is probably true. My existing theory is that we have a military-industrial complex that profits from war and therefore will attempt to create and maintain war using human beings as cogs in its complex social machinery to permit people to make choices that otherwise be considered completely irrational (for instance, to send young men to kill and to die for money). Another theory is that our government and military are wise and our war is just.
It's like believing there's some catalytic fuel injection system that splits water molecules into their hydrogen and oxygen atoms without any energy and which can then be burned in a conventionally designed internal-combustion engine which then reverts it back to water. Alternatively, water molecules are in a stable, strongly bonded state that requires more energy to split apart than you'd get when you burn them together so water can never be a fuel source.
In both cases, the simpler theory is true.
I guess I'm just a fool to believe war is that simple — that it can be explained to a lay-person in terms they'd understand without some basic understanding. Especially in light of the fact that explaining something that I understand to the lay-person requires some level of basic understanding on theirs.
Besides, I'm in a surrendering mood lately anyway. I had argued in a discussion about how making "snarky" comments at an early stage in a creative endavor can cause it to be abandoned, even if it really was a good idea. See, any work from the heart starts with a tiny kernel — a little itch that says you should try and do something. It's never very specific, and it knows nothing about construction, insurance, or its own purpose even. But if you nurture it and try things, you can coax the idea into something stronger — something that has meaning or a method to be constructed. From there you create designs and explanations. It's at that point that it can survive critique, and the creator becomes a mouthpiece to explain the creation's intentions (in a metaphoric, not metaphysical way).
See, I thought I was ready to defend that concept, but it still isn't mature enough. The "dumb hippy" comments I got about it, and the "you have to be tough enough to handle reality" comments really hurt — I expected the group to realize that this was a self-referential discussion and understand that it was fledgling idea that needed nurturing more than it needed murder. I didn't know whether it would survive or not, and at my weakest point, I decided to surrender the argument to my opponents. To the surrender I added, "I will continue to create because it is a fundamental part of my being. Be glad, though, that everything I make will make me convulse with disgust that it might one day bring any of you joy."
I found it really unfortunate that in as much as anyone who's made something from nothing can relate to that point, those who have not can not.
But onto artwork completed and presented for critique: on Friday I stopped out at A|V Art Sound Space (N. Union St. at Trinidad St., #8 in the Public Market, formerly the All-Purpose Room) to check out that Mebemewebe mural. I looked at it for a while but it never came together for me. The artists' statement indicated it had something to do with an energy flow but it seemed broken and disjoint — it was done on three panels with a gap between them so wherever you stood you'd get a different perspective. I appreciated the concept, but I just couldn't get the piece to make sense to me ... the energy-flow idea really didn't clue me in, either. The other artwork from Islands Fold was quite good, though ... rather trippy and complex but with an interesting consistency to it all.
Later, Ali, myself, and Ali's friend Stacie went to a Halloween party at a house of a friend of theirs. I had dressed as a longshoreman ... a rather simple costume although with my beard and the addition of a snug-fitting knit hat, a beige turtleneck sweater, and a yellow raincoat, I could have walked out of any movie scene. The two of them had made their own Girl Scout costumes that looked really good. Anyway, the party was excellent — there were about 80 people there and all but maybe 5 showed up in costume. It was great ... sort of like those amazing costume parties you'd see in 1980's movies that never seem to look that way — real-world parties consisting of half the people gawking in street clothes.
Saturday Ali and I got a late start and headed to a friend of mine's party that I was rather looking forward to. I had pretty high expectations and although the party was okay, it didn't meet those high standards and I wasn't nearly as drunk as the other partiers so I was kind of disappointed. We went to Lux Lounge (666 South Ave.) after just a few minutes and, for the first time I can remember, had to wait in line outside until enough people left. The party at Lux was quite good as well. Once again, everyone was dressed up except for a handful of people. I'm beginning to understand the interest in costuming: it's essentially a collaborative effort made independently by individuals to create an atmosphere of fantasy. I actually would have preferred that people inadequately costumed would have been turned away at the door. Perhaps, like the group-editing technique we used at Gracies Dinnertime Theatre that you'd simply need to justify your costume to be let in.
Sunday (two days before Halloween) we got our pumpkins carved. They ended up looking pretty good ... lit-up or not. I decided to save all the guts and on Monday I made some pumpkin-spiced, pumpkinseed granola which turned out pretty good. I also made an attempt to use the seed membrane strings that everyone says to throw away — I figure I can freeze small clumps into ice cube trays then use a blender to avoid the problem of them winding around the spindle and actually get them puréed. That's still pending, though.
On Monday evening I made it to the Emerging Filmmakers Series installment at The Little (240 East Ave.) The show was pretty good. My Escape from Teen America by Stevie Girard started things off — it was a great film with a good style about a kid coming to grips with himself as a "self" rather than a "product". I had seen Crossing before at the 2003 The Rochester International Film Festival. It was made by Riccardo Costa ... I thought the twist-ending was still too easy to figure out, but I liked it more this time ... maybe it was edited a little, or maybe I just saw it differently. Betty la Flaca by Hugo Perez was a pretty funny film about a Latino woman who gets her buttocks enlarged at a sketchy clinic to make her more desirable to Latino men. But the real treat of the night was the amazing Motion Portrait by John W. Yost. It was simply a series of moving portraits of people but each seemed to really capture their essence in just a few carefully-selected seconds.
Tuesday was Halloween and Ali and I got a few trick-or-treaters at my house. The first batch of them got quite a lot of candy as well. We left early to stop for a snack at Starry Nites Café (696 University Ave., formerly Moonbeans) before heading to George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Nosferatu. Man ... for a film that's over 80 years old, it was really quite creepy. The special effects were sometimes subtle (like the lightning-fast demonic horses) or rather corny (the stop-motion animation was a bit weak) but overall, each effect was used specifically to make a point, not just to demonstrate the effect. I'd bet that watching it alone in the dark would raise the hair on the back of your neck.
Updated: Note that The High Falls Film Festival starts next Wednesday. For any of you nerds like me who like to have the whole thing in their datebook, database, or spreadsheet, well, here's the complete list of events in tab-separated format. Edit the file first if you need to remove the headings line before importing it. Pick between:
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