J is for JG Ballard

Last Friday, I saw High Rise, a film starring Tom Hiddleston based on the novel of the same name by JG Ballard.

High Rise is set in an all-inclusive high rise apartment building (and when I say all-inclusive, I mean supermarket, school, gym, etc.) its residents only leave to go to work each day if they must; the point of the place is that you don’t have to leave. The apartments are set up in a kind of on-the-nose classist way, with the haves dwelling on the upper floors and the have-nots living on the lower floors. Hiddleston plays Dr. Robert Laing, a bachelor whose sister’s recent death sent him looking for a fresh start. He lives a little more than halfway up — 25th floor. At first, everything is fine. But after the electricity and other resources are monopolized by the rich, things descend (very quickly) into a frenzy of violence and depravity. People start killing and raping and stealing. Trash piles up. People stop going to work and sending their children to school. The food in the supermarket rots because nothing new is being ordered. And nobody leaves. They’re happy to fight this self-made war within the apartment building.

According to synopses of the book I’ve read online, the people are content to live so savagely because, in the building, they can finally give into urges that would be unacceptable out in the real world. So despite the danger they face every single day, they prefer to remain in their apartments.

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Maybe if I read the book, I’ll be able to suspend my disbelief. In a novel, you spend time with the characters & their thoughts, and things unfold much more slowly — so you have the space you need to connect with what’s going on. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief while watching the film. Firstly, this descent into madness takes place in less than three months. ?!?!?!? Secondly, the city skyline is visible from the apartment balconies AND these people have cars. Are you telling me NOBODY thought to leave? Everybody insisted on staying? They weren’t completely cut off from the world (as I said, most of them worked in the city). Maybe some occupants left, but the filmmakers decided not to spend any time on them.

Thirdly, why did the supermarket run out of stuff? Now this one, I do have a guess about. I think the rich wanted to teach the poor a lesson by withholding resources (the designer of the buildings lived on the top floor of this particular building. He and his wife owned it.), and then things just got out of hand and eventually even they grew accustomed to killing their own pets for food (yes, this is what happens). But somehow, even this explanation rubs me the wrong way. Would people who are used to having the best of everything toss that aside as quickly as the people who didn’t have much at all? I’m not saying they wouldn’t do so eventually, but the speed with which these things happen…I think that might be my biggest problem. That, and the fact that the film spends less time on helpful commentary/explanation and more time on beautifully stylized shots of the action. The descent into chaos happens in a montage, and it made me want to punch someone.

The film itself is like candy for your eyes, which is cool. And the style is definitely fitting of the era the story is set in (the 1970s). I just wish there’d been a little more help from the director as far as getting me on board with what’s going on in this world. But Hiddleston is hot, so there’s that.

He’s like…creepy-hot. Hahaha. Maybe I should do a post on my favorite “creepy-hot” guys.

I’ve also been reading Crash (another novel/festival of weirdness by JG Ballard) for like…three or four weeks. I generally read quickly, and the story is only 185 pages long, but because of Ballard’s concentration on the same, very specific & very graphic details, my brain got tired and I needed to take a few breaks. He went to medical school, which reeeaaallly shows in his writing. Especially in a book about bodies, like Crash, which is about a man who is sexually aroused by car crashes and the multitude of injuries they make possible, and thus starts causing accidents on purpose. It’s about more than that, but you might never visit this page again if I really got into it, so I’ll just leave you with that. XD

Have you read any JG Ballard? What are your thoughts? Do you find Hiddleston creepy-hot, too?

Happy Wednesday!

I is for Internet Dating

I just recently (as in, like, three days ago) embarked on a journey of internet weirdness and joined a dating site. I’ve had a few false starts with these things in the past (i.e. letting the sleazy creeps scare me into deleting my profile after about 5 minutes). But it’s actually not such a bad thing to do if you’re a shy lil flower who finds it hard to meet people in real life. This is what I’ve learned so far:

It can be overwhelming.
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SO many people join these sites, which means there are crazy amounts of profiles to sift through. Lots of people will view your profile, a good chunk of those viewing will “like” your profile, and some will send you messages. Being bombarded with information from so many different humans at once has made me want to dig a hole and stuff my head into it ostrich-style. Since joining, I’ve actually said, out loud, multiple times, “Whyyyyyy do you people keep talking to me? Go away!” Then I remember, you joined a dating site, you fool; you brought this apocalypse of desire upon yourself. Congrats.

There are actually cool folks to be found online.
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In the midst of all the crazy, I’ve actually connected with a couple of decent guys already. This does not translate into DEAR GOD, YES — THE SEARCH HAS ENDED. Nope. Far from it. But I definitely see the potential for good friendships to come out of this if nothing else. And in London, where you apparently need to be out rioting and grinding in a gaggle of people before anyone is convinced you’re actually having a good time (a guy at the BFI called my night boring last Friday when I told him I’d be spending it watching the Hitchcock/Truffaut film. A guy who worked there.), it’s nice to have someone you can occasionally shove into the faces of passersby and scream “See? I’m out with someone! I’m having fun! SEE?!”

The creeps are still out there.
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In the name of research, I really wish I’d recorded all the user names I’ve encountered thus far containing the words “dick” and/or “naughty.” I only search through the profiles of people who’ve already liked mine to begin with, so I won’t even venture a guess as to how many other “naughtybigdick”s and “miis0horny”s and “pussydestroyer”s make up the entire site (These aren’t real usernames. Then again, they probably are.), but I think I can say with total confidence the answer is “a lot.” (Come to think of it, that’s probably a username, too. A bit on the subtle side. I might actually talk to that guy…). But to be fair, the creeps aren’t just the people who send you messages asking if you “punish bad boys” (yes, this happened). I also count as creeps the guys who don’t listen when you point out that the two of you aren’t looking for the same thing. Yes, I’m interested in friendship. No, that does not mean “friends with benefits.” Yes, I enjoy sex. No, I don’t want to have it with you.

It’s important to know and STATE exactly what you want.
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If you were my shrink, I could give you a (semi-long) list of reasons why I still fight the urge to be the kind of person who accommodates others more often than not. I am fairly laid back when it comes to a lot of things, but I’m talking about putting your own needs/wants aside so as not to seem “rude.” Now that I’m closer to being a grownup, I’m willing to shout it from the rooftops: BE FUCKING RUDE! OK, fine, you don’t have to be a jerk about it (if you don’t want) but whether you do it politely or with brick-bashing harshness, tell people what you want! Otherwise, how will they know? You know how folks say “life is short” and “time is precious” and all that? That includes YOUR life and YOUR time. Being clear about who you are and what you’re about saves time. Which means it saves lives. Like your life. Which is precious. Damn clichés.

Picky is protection.
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This goes hand in hand with the above point. In my first attempts at online dating, I set my parameters wide. Like, ages 21-50 wide. I was worried that if I didn’t try to accept every type of guy that I might miss out on the right one. Now I have a much better idea of what I want & don’t want, and what I’m willing & unwilling to accept. It’s actually a huge relief to have a more precise picture of what I want because it automatically cuts out everyone who doesn’t fit (and saves time 🙂 ). There’s nothing wrong with being picky. It means you won’t settle. Of course, I’m gonna pick my battles and not stamp EVERY guy’s forehead with a big, red UNACCEPTABLE. But it really does make life easier when you can say “no” with confidence, and not let the possibility of missing out keep you bogged down by a bunch of nonsense.

Finding the right person is still hard.
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Is it easier for a shy person to meet people online? Yes. At least it’s easier for this shy person. However, “the one” did not magically appear on my computer screen sporting a unicorn-glow as soon as I uploaded my profile. It’s tricky navigating the interwebz and picking out people who might actually be compatible with you. Yes, the algorithm is supposed to handle that for you but, as one of the guys I’ve met said, the compatibility percentage can be majorly misleading. You have to use all of those likes and dislikes and “I want”s and “I don’t want”s to exclude the glaring “no”s, then you examine what’s left and hope you make a genuine connection with someone. There are so many people in this world, and every single one of them is different, which makes finding the person for you that much harder. Hopefully, after all the naughty boys and big dicks, it’ll be worth it in the end.

Happy Tuesday!

H is for Hitchcock

Hi there (if anyone is still bothering to read this, haha).

It’s been too long, I know. I’ve been doing stuff and seeing things. One of the things I saw last Friday was a documentary on the book Hitchcock about — you guessed it — Alfred Hitchcock, written by the French director François Truffaut.

Through interviews with directors like Scorsese, Wes Anderson, James Gray, and Olivier Assayas, the documentary discusses the making of the book — mostly through the establishment of the friendship between Truffaut & Hitchcock and their subsequent interview which make up the contents of the book. According to the documentary, Truffaut considered Hitchcock the greatest director working at the time. His decision to take on the book project was inspired by his desire to elevate Hitchcock in the eyes of his detractors. Back then, film critics largely considered Hitchcock an entertainer and not a legitimate artist. But he did many things in his films which demonstrate how unique his visual instinct was.

For one thing, he did a lot of shooting from above, the “God’s eye view” as some of the directors called it. One example the film gives of this technique being used well was of a scene in the movie The Wrong Man, where the accused is taken to a prison cell. When he enters, we watch from above — an omniscient point of view. Then the point of view switches to the prisoner’s own as the camera cuts from his face to the different corners of/objects in the cell that the man is looking at. There was also a lot of discussion of Hitchcock’s obsession with particular objects — a piece of rope, or keys for example — and the way he often chose to focus in close up on the action of an actor handling a particular object.

The most interesting things I learned had to do with Hitchcock’s relationships with actors. He did not collaborate. He directed every. single. action his actors took. He’s quoted as saying “Actors are cattle” and that’s exactly how he treated them. They were tools, instruments used to realize his vision. Like life-sized dolls. It’s amazing to me that a person could have such a clear idea of what they want and how they want it that they would control every aspect of the process. Naturally, the actors weren’t thrilled about it XD

I’ve only seen 3 of Hitchcock’s films so far: The Birds, Psycho, and Rear Window. The next will be Vertigo. It’s about a man who kills his wife, then obsesses over her to the point of withholding  his love from a woman who’s in love with him, unless she agrees to change her appearance to look exactly like his dead wife’s. Disturbing, right? Right up my street, haha. I’m not just interested because of the plot, though. Vertigo was one of the films the documentary spent the most time on. According to a few of the directors, the events in the film aren’t necessarily believable, and there are a few plot holes. But, supposedly, Vertigo shows off some of Hitchcock’s best visual storytelling. He said he “wrote with the camera” rather than with a pen, pencil or typewriter, and you can definitely see that in his work.

Here’s a bit of trivia (that they didn’t even mention in the documentary!): Did you know Alfred Hitchcock’s daughter, Patricia, had supporting parts in 3 of his films? Instead of telling you which ones, I’ll leave you with this lovely photo I found of Hitchcock, his wife, his daughter, his son-in-law, and his granddaughters. Let me know below if you recognize Patricia from any of Hitchcock’s movies.

Bye, y’all.

G is for the Gregorian Calendar

Hey, hey, hey!

**A couple of gifs are absent from this post bc WordPress and the interwebz hate me. Check back later for the missing goods.**

So, OK… Leap Day was yesterday but I still wanna talk about it because it fascinates me. I’d always wondered why the day even exists. Apparently the appearance of this mysterious day in February is down to a disparity between the Gregorian calendar (365 days) and the amount of time it actually takes for the Sun to orbit the Earth (365.2422 days). The extra day is added (almost) every four years to make up the extra time the Gregorian calendar doesn’t account for (I read a Telegraph article that explains the exception as years that are “both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400”).

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So people born on February 29th don’t get to celebrate their birthdays on the actual day every year 😦 BUT they can reasonably get away with claiming to be much younger than they actually are (win).

There’s also the whole ladies proposing to men tradition on Leap Day. This, I kinda have a problem with b/c it’s like “Oh, hey — it’s Feb. 29, so it’s OK.” Gee, thanks for the crumb 😡 I say, if you want to propose to your guy, do it! Eff what day it is.

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I’m not familiar with many of the famous “leapers” or people born on Leap Day. The person I immediately think of when I think of Feb 29 birthdays doesn’t even really exist.

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It makes complete sense that Jerry Gergich (from Parks and Recreation), a guy who drew the short straw in almost every aspect of life, would be born on a day that only comes roughly once every four years.

Do you know any interesting Leap Year trivia? I know I could just Google it, but asking is more fun.

Happy not-Leap-Day!