Weekly Rochester Events #430: Drake Starts Going In Circles
Thursday, April 5, 2007
I finally finished Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged after nearly 9 months of reading on-and-off. I'm a slow reader to begin with (although it varies depending on the material and how much reflection I want to put into it) but I agree with a friend of mine that this particular book gets to be an endurance test.
But the worst part is that I don't respect Rand nearly as much. The book builds an ideal of a laissez-faire capitalist utopia — well, I guess it mostly it describes the decline of a non-laissez-faire capitalist society. It ends with a short, two-page "and they all lived happily ever after." Ugh.
See, one of the key facets of a true laissez-faire capitalist utopia is — get this — that everyone behaves respectfully toward one another. Realize that this is the same key facet of a communistic utopia, which itself works only as long nobody's expressed needs that are more than their actual needs and as long as nobody's expressed abilities that are less than their true abilities. I remember asking one of the founders of The Ant Hill Cooperative (960 South Plymouth Ave.) about the punitive system they have in place in the event that someone fails to cooperate and he replied (essentially), "we haven't ironed out the details of that yet." Perhaps I'm wrong — after all, Ant Hill seems to be doing well and they've been around since 2005 or so — but I can't help to notice that this is the point-of-failure for countless societies.
As for Ayn Rand, the thing that tipped me off was the casual mention in the epilogue quoting her saying, "no man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others." So what does that entail, exactly? If I drink the water from a river and upstream is a PVC plant and one of their waste products is dioxin which they dump into the river, may I consider my reaction one of self-defense? — after all, they are poisoning me. Where's that line drawn between a deliberately executed attack and apathetic carelessness? To me, this is the lynchpin by which Rand's ideal society would collapse.
So while I agree with a lot of the beliefs of Ayn Rand for stuff that would work, the idea of replacing our present, stable society with one that has a known point of total failure would be a mistake.
In the more objective world, last Wednesday, I only got to see Ali for a little while when we went to Cold Stone Creamery (3349 Monroe Ave., Pittsford) and had some ice cream. It quite cold outside but the place was very busy with kids. Then on Thursday I had a similarly short visit when we went to Bill Gray's (1225 Jefferson Rd., formerly Union Square) in Henrietta. I'm growing to like the burgers there, although I'm still a bigger fan of "gourmet burgers" with expensive beef and toasted buns.
On Friday I finally got to spend some quality time with her when I shaved off my beard and hair for the "summer look." We went to Solera Wine Bar (647 South Ave) and Lux Lounge (666 South Ave.) that night for some drinks afterward.
Saturday night I went to The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see The Guatemalan Handshake. I'm rather stumped as to what to say about it — I mean I liked it, but I just don't know how to explain why. It's the story of a handful of people tangentially related to one another in a small town. All the technical aspects of the film are great, from sound and picture to acting and directing. It's strongly character-driven, only with relatively average (if eccentric) people who aren't set up with conflicting opinions. The plot — rather, plots are all pretty simple.
I guess what draws me to the film is that it's a lot like real life. Everyone remembers when weird things happen in their life, and often the incidental day-to-day things become more vibrant because of it. But we spend our lives doing day-to-day things, most of which lay dormant in our memories. So Guatemalan Handshake kind of stirs up those memories — the common things that come from the uncommon things ... something like that anyway.
Todd Rohal was on hand to answer questions afterward. Part of his philosophy was that he went into the project thinking he was going to make one movie in his life, and that this was the movie he wanted to make. He presently doesn't plan to put it on DVD because it would be expensive to do right and probably wouldn't make enough money to cover the costs. He added that if someone wants to see it, they can get hold of him and set up a venue to screen the 35mm print and he'd probably oblige.
Later I met up with Ali and her friend Stacie at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) We all missed Anal Pudding but got to see most of Gaylord — well, "Greylord, the world's only Gaylord cover band". I really enjoyed their set this time ... I'm really getting comfortable with the complexity, rock-ness, and randomness of their music. Finishing up the night for some reason was The Fabulous Dung Beatles who seemed to try to offend with song, but somehow were too blandly funny, too obviously trying to offend, and too musically terrible to be interesting at all.
Anyway, on Sunday Ali and I colored Easter eggs. Both of us remember it being a huge, messy ordeal when we were kids but we probably spent 15 minutes from beginning-to-end on a dozen eggs.
Afterward we went to the Dryden to see Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Celine and Julie Go Boating). We didn't realize it was over 3 hours long at the outset, and it tends to drag a lot in the middle. And at the beginning.
The first hour or so is spent with Julie following Céline through the streets of Paris trying to return her sunglasses, and then with the two of them becoming acquainted. The story implies they don't know one another, but they seem pretty familiar to be strangers. The rest of the film develops a fantasy world in an abandoned house where a seemingly wealthy family from an earlier time is dealing with a sick child — as if they're stuck in one moment in time forever. The two women, in turn, enter the house and get swept into the fantasy, and when they return to the real world, they are disoriented. Eventually they figure out they are playing a nurse to the family and decide to try and affect the outcome of the fantasy world.
It's all quite strange. Neglecting the endurance test it was to watch, it's a quite interesting movie. That is, while we were watching it, we were begging not to have the same fantasy-world scene acted out in full each time — it was like watching all three alternative endings to the movie Clue all in a row like they're presented in the video version. After the fact, though, I feel like it asks a bunch of questions. For instance, the familiarity of the two characters and the whole thing where both of them are the nurse led me to wonder if they weren't, in fact, one person. Maybe the "reality" was the nurse's fantasy. At least it doesn't pull some crap like declaring the whole movie was "just a dream."
Anyway, on Monday I worked on the Speedometer Calibrator some more. Now, I don't think I've mentioned it before, but Ali and I had a little problem with that Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon we got a few months back: the speedometer reads about 10% too fast — if you're going 60 MPH, the speedometer reads about 66 MPH. Well, since it's got an electronic speedometer and speed sensor, I figured I could make a circuit to report the correct speed to the speedometer. I finally got it working well enough to install in the car and tried it out, using my Garmin eTrex Legend handheld GPS to get the correct vehicle speed, and now the speedometer reads spot-on accurate. Hooray!
So on Tuesday I folded the seats down and put mine and Ali's bike in back and headed out to see her. We got in a few miles of riding and had some dinner and watched Annie Hall on DVD. We both like that film — it sure is a far cry from a marathon subtitled trippy French film.
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About the title ... Sir Francis Drake began is voyage to circumnavigate the globe 430 years ago in 1577.
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
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