bunt sign

Sunday, March 4, 2001

You have to give me credit for not trying to impress anyone with what a sane and stable person I am. I don't try to make anyone think I'm an expert in anything, or good at anything, or even halfway competent. I spend more pixels here describing my own deficiencies than I ever do pretending to be a worthwhile person or a good conversationalist or even moderately hygienic.

If I do something interesting, I write about it here. If I do something that's not completely boring, I write about it here. If I do nothing, I write about myself here, or how I see myself, which isn't necessarily the same thing.

Examining my life has had the effect of raising my expectations for myself. It's not just that I want to be a more interesting person for the benefit of the journal. It's more that thinking about what I do, day in and day out, has shown me how much room for improvement there is.

I've been feeling particularly uninspired lately, in just about every way. It has something to do with the weather, I think, and the bad news from all over the world. I can stop reading the newspaper, but I can't keep the rain from pouring down or the wind from blowing. I just have to keep depending on what I know will help me get by until all this passes — books, music, chocolate and friends.

Just because there's a storm cloud hanging over me doesn't mean I can't duck under the eaves until it's gone.

I have to say that movies haven't been the answer lately. I watched two of them on the satellite last night, neither of which I'd seen before, and I didn't exactly find them uplifting.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is about identity, and the elusive quest for happiness. It's about truth, lies and money. It's about what it takes to change your life — the ability to make lies sound like the truth, plus plenty of money. And even then, you don't find happiness, because you never figure out who you really are.

There. If you haven't seen the movie, I just saved you two and a half hours of looking around for things to throw at the screen. I didn't really hate the film, but I hated every single character in it. (Okay, I didn't really hate the characters, either, as much as not care about what happened to them, which is a mortal sin in a movie, as far as I'm concerned.)

The atmosphere of idle wealth in the film put me off from the start. It's about a generation of young people whose ability to piss away their parents' money while belittling their parents is unrestricted. The title character is the only one not born to money, but he wants that life so much that he's willing to do anything to get it.

Maybe it's just me, but I have to identify with something about at least one of the main characters in a film, or I start to wonder why I'm even watching. The view of humanity in Ripley is bleak, and the performances are unsympathetic. I thought the movie was cold and humorless. Also long and endless.

Oddly, I found The Beach to be a somewhat more palatable version of a similar theme. Leonardo DiCaprio's looking for fun, finds paradise, loses everything. In the beginning, he's not satisfied with his life, and he takes chances to find something different. In the end, as with Ripley, we have to draw our own conclusions about how his experience has affected him.

The film might be just as ridiculous as Ripley, but at least it has some color to it, some life, and its star has the real charisma that Matt Damon pretends to have as Tom Ripley (a character who would have been better served if Leo had been cast in the role).

Not that I'm recommending anyone see The Beach! Please. It's a decent idea that goes nowhere. Pallid characterizations and pointless storytelling in an unappealing setting. Almost everything about it would have been better if done differently, especially the island paradise that is the least inviting island paradise ever captured on film. The biggest effect the movie had on me was to make me appreciate my own life more. And that's not easy to do these days.

See up in the corner under the peak of the roof here? With all the trees around my house, why would any birds want to build their nest there?

bird's nest under the eave

I've been reading by the light that comes through the loft window in the late afternoon and seen a black phoebe casing the joint. I've gently discouraged this bird from making any permanent arrangement to build on my property, though.

This feels like a way too negative entry, and that wasn't my intention. That's not even how I'm feeling right now, although I do wish the sun would come out one day soon. I'm okay, I'm getting by. I realize that I'm better off than most people on this planet, and that the same situation that gives me the ability to complain also gives me no right to. Life is... hopeful, and no worse than tolerable in the meantime.

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Latest recommendation:

Amy, When in Doubt, Use Parsley, February 25, Registries

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I saw the Empire slowly fade away
Tried to grasp it with my hand
Then I saw that it was not up to me
I'm just one tiny, tiny grain of sand