Most Thankful

I saw an incredible sunset yesterday, occurring as the weather was changing and the low clouds were clearing far to the west, allowing the sun to accent the dark gray with bright orange.

I've heard songs that moved me and continue to stir emotions even on hearing recordings many times over. I have wonderful friends whom I care about and who care about me. I have food and shelter better than what kings had 300 years ago. I live in a world where clean water runs from taps on demand. Reliably. Every single day.

But I also live in a world where one man can kill another and be exempt from facing a jury of his peers. A world where many many people live without the shelter and food, security and friendship that I often take for granted. Where the richest people extort the poorest. Where we are changing the world's climate for the worse and, collectively, ignoring it. And we are poisoning our water supplies so we can have more fuel to burn.

I watched it grow this way. Coming of age in the late 1980's, I embraced the flashy world of limitless riches. I foolishly thought Jimmy Carter and his ilk were fools for being such a failure in the face of the anti-environment, pro-business world of Ronald Reagan. As I grew I knew something was amiss, but I did like everyone else did: I had a good job. I drove to work each day. I bought lots of stuff.

But now it's really starting to look bleak—the end of the party is at hand. We have tremendous social inertia to continue to get high-paying jobs, drive to work each day, and buy lots of stuff. But all that excess is from checks cashed from the Earth. As climate change wreaks havoc on our crops, the last survivors will surely be the genetically modified purebreds of the giant corporations. And when they fail, there won't be enough seeds of adaptable varieties remaining to save us. And as we continue to drill wells that pollute the huge aquifers and lakes we get our drinking water from, again it will be the giant corporations surviving last—selling water at prices that would make an oil-baron blush. But when they fail, there won't be any way to get clean water.

"But technology will save us!" Yeah … up to a point.

We'll make electric cars that let us keep the exact same standard of living—but at all new expenses of obtaining elements like lithium through mountaintop mining … perhaps we can grind down Everest. And we'll keep making more and more that will keep the economy chugging along full-throttle ensuring more money and more jobs (well, more money at least, as technology makes more workers obsolete and the money flows into fewer and fewer hands.)

But making food out of nothing?: can't be done. Clean water from dirty water?: very expensive and very energy-intensive (only exacerbating the problem.)

The wisest, smartest people have spoken, and the message is: stop. Stop using more energy. Stop making more stuff. Stop driving everywhere. Stop flying everywhere. Stop polluting water. Stop polluting the air.

But that message isn't as alluring as a flashy world of limitless riches. So this is the start of a very long, very dark time—for humankind, especially.

Fortunately for me, I never wanted children of my own. In 2008 I had a vasectomy and made that decision permanent. I consider myself lucky that I will never have to watch as my children suffer an awful world.

I am so thankful.

Movies in October 2014

So here's the movies I watched in October:

  1. The Dog at the Little, October 11: This was the first of two movies I was able to see at this year's ImageOut Film Festival. It's a documentary about John Wojtowicz who became famous for robbing a bank to pay for his lover's sex-change operation in 1975—the basis for the film Dog Day Afternoon. Wojtowicz was an affable and funny guy, although with a fierce and gender-ambivalent sex drive. I tend to believe what he says as true (embellishments aside), and through that I learned he was quite the ally of the gay movement in the 1970's. It's a documentary deserving of a look.
  2. A Trip to Italy at the Cinema, October 16: Jenn and I caught this just before it closed at the Cinema. I didn't have high expectations as I had heard it described as "Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have fancy meals in Italy together." Their chemistry and apparent improvisation that begins the film lulled me in to believing it as an ostensibly true document (although, to be completely honest, I was a bit surprised by some fancy camera work while they were driving.) But as the plot thickens, so-to-speak, a heartfelt pathos is revealed and it becomes a bit of a document of "playboys past their prime". I found it especially poignant as they observed some pretty young women and one quips that "now they just look through us […] we are no longer a threat"—I had observed how I can become a ghost at bars these days, floating through without being so much as looked at.
  3. The Drop at the Cinema, October 11: We both stayed for the second feature about a bartender lured in to the illegal side of the bar where he works. Given the fluidity and chemistry displayed in A Trip to Italy, the wordsmithy script was readily apparent. The barely likeable Bob was matched to even less likeable characters. I found myself way too ahead of the film, or at least clued-in to the key points long before they were revealed as a surprise. Contrived situations aside, the wordsmithiness makes for a perfectly acceptable story and an interesting movie to watch. It just has its weaknesses. Jenn had further noticed that Tom Hardy played Bob and Coogan and Brydon relentlessly and hilariously mocked Hardy's mumbling speaking style.
  4. Appropriate Behavior at the Little, October 17: Jenn and I went to the other ImageOut Film Festival film festival tonight. It's the tale of falling in and out of love too fast and maintains a cunning and funny wit all throughout. Our only complaint is that the lead character Shirin's love interest Maxine seemed kind of cruel and unlikeable, so it was hard to believe in any severity to the breakup, and although real love is strange, movie love needs to be believable.
  5. Little Accidents at the Little, October 25: Jenn and I went to see this as part of the High Falls Film Festival. It's about the people in a mining town where one man survives a major mining accident. Jenn thought it was quite good but I found it contrived. It was as if I could feel the writer's backspace key: "… his younger brother saw [backspace][backspace][backspace] who had Down's syndrome saw …" (at least the actor really did have Down's, so kudos to that.) Unlikely people pair up solely because it's convenient to the plot. The pedant in me had some fits as well, like when talking to the police about a child gone missing, the mother doesn't bother mentioning a substantial event until she's about to leave, again solely for the sake of the writing but wholly incongruous with reality.
  6. The Shining in Hoyt Auditorium on the UofR Campus, October 31: Despite an astonishingly bad digital projection (did Kubrick really intend for a lot of saturated fuchsia, muddy contrast, and a clunky judder on every panning shot?), this film sure stands the test of time. It's about a couple with a young boy who act as caretakers of a huge, desolate resort through the winter. Most people already know the basic plot, but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt since this is the first time I ever saw it—despite being quite a film buff. I was stunned at how gripping the tension was, and how amazing all the performances were. And despite the lousy projection and sound (making it seem like the videotape of a community theater production), the story was thoroughly disturbing. I also appreciated the brilliant methodical pacing which was spot-on perfect—a lesser film would have seemed draining and insufferably long by comparison.