Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Call Friday Night Lights a football film if you want. I see more. I can't help it right now.
Getting back into this project, or any project for that matter, has been next to impossible since Mom died last month. Everything I watch seems to have a detail, moment, or theme that takes me right to her. Everything I do leads me right back.
Maybe I'm just predisposed to wandering thoughts that always end up in the same place. I find myself looking ahead to a stretch of films about loss and death, and I'm not good at this.
We hadn't spoken in five years. The "why" seems stupid now. We didn't get along, so we didn't talk. She wanted me to call and I didn't. I wanted her to treat me differently and she didn't. There's not much more to say right now. We hadn't talked in years, hadn't gotten along in even longer, and I'm the one who has to live with that, not anybody else.
I told my wife and myself several times this year, probably more times this year than ever, that I should call Mom. I should drop this shit and just call her. No, it'll be bad, I thought. I'll do it later. Yeah, maybe at the holidays, I'll try it again somehow. And then...well, I can't tell you everything.
Mom lived in Texas for a while before she got together with Dad. Watching this film tonight, I'm not actually looking at a film about football — I'm not even thinking about the film at all. I'm thinking of Mom, 40 years ago, out in that big, wide open nothing of Texas, where the landscapes stretch out forever. I like to think she was happy there, at least for a while. I have pictures of her from that era of her life, and she's young and pretty and happy. She had blonde hair then and I never knew why.
Listen to this soundtrack. Explosions in the Sky delivers these big, echoing, ebbing and flowing post-rock anthems that put the great big open nothingness of Texas to music. Throw in some rap and metal from the late 1980s and even Bad Company's "Seagull" over the credits and you have one of the finest soundtracks out there — the kind you can play on repeat and ride the arc of the film if you want. These instrumentals take me right to her again.
Friday Night Lights is a film about hope. I see a film that examines how we deal with dashed hopes and missed opportunities. Friday Night Lights says much about how intrepid we can be when we suffer a loss. We get back up because we have no choice. The world might look a lot different in that instant and beyond, and we might hurt like we've never hurt, and we might cry like we've never cried, but we get back up anyway.
And in this case, I find myself looking for solace through some kind of restitution — making her (and others I've lost) proud in whatever way I can because there's no other peace in this. I don't know what I'm doing, but this seems right.
If I live in a way that would make her proud, then maybe this won't be so hard to carry, and maybe when I see her again, everything will be different.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I'm not going to bullshit you. This movie is not that good.
The idea is fine — two immature, twentysomething geek friends meet the real William Shatner in a bookstore, and he crushes their world by not being Captain Kirk. Kicking and screaming toward maturity ensues. Even Shatner has a character arc here. The film explores the nature of friendship in the face of adulthood, love in the face of childhood, and the imperfections in us all — even our role models.
The execution, however, is for shit. The writing is bland, the dialogue is longwinded and annoying, and the actors — I feel like I'm watching a group of geeked-out theatre majors at a lame house party where we're all watching a Dream Theater DVD (and I like Dream Theater!).
Pretty much the best actor in this film is William Shatner.
But this film is a funhouse mirror for the geek in me, and gets at so many feelings I have about everything from love to friendship to action figures. At one point in the late '90s, I thought I'd found treasure here.
I credit this film with giving me the idea to watch Logan's Run on my 30th birthday, which I did, alone, and I'm not sure how I feel about that now. Now, I guess I just feel like one of a million other geeks, nearly all of whom annoy the shit out of me.
That last bit gets at a strange dichotomy; I like the things that I like, but I often do not like the people who also like the things I like. Takes a while to get through the door with me.
I'm not saying my fellow geeks are bad people. I'm glad other people dig this stuff. I'm glad we have things in common. I just don't mesh well with them. My idea of a good time is not hanging out in a smoky restaurant with obnoxious people who smoke pipes, wear furry hats, and grow pointy beards.
Don't get me wrong. I have a few friends who share my interests, and I love talking with them and spending time with them, but I don't go to comic conventions, I don't do role-playing of any kind, I watch Joss Whedon projects in moderation, and I don't sound like Dr. Bunsen Honeydew or Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory" when I talk. Most importantly, unlike a large swath of the geek populace, I shower daily.
Having said all that, maybe I'm a judgmental prick — an elitist among elitists. But no, there's logic here: just because you like the same stuff as someone else doesn't necessarily mean your personalities will mesh. I rarely meet someone who not only shares my interests, but also clicks with me. That's the Great White Buffalo of my social life.
That sort of brings me to the point. I'm not even sure I want to meet that Great White Buffalo anymore. In fact, I've stopped looking for it, because I like the people I've found over the years. If I found the Great White Buffalo now, would that person even fit? Where?
So yeah, I'm glad that most (though not all) geeks annoy me. That makes the ones who don't annoy me seem that much more special. Not only do my friends like what I like, but we also like each other. Also, they shower frequently.
We don't have to like all the same things. Some crossover is good, but I'd be freaked if someone had an identical DVD collection to mine, or had read all the same books, or whatever. That's not interesting; that's creepy.
I need my friends. I need my wife. For better or worse, regardless of our differences, I love that we all have our "things" that we share and our "things" that we don't. The "things" that make us different also make us interesting. I can learn from the people I know; they can turn me on to a movie I haven't seen or a book I haven't read, or a way of looking at the world that makes more sense than what I was thinking all along. They also can be the kindest, most wonderful people I could ever want to know.
My mom died a couple weeks ago, and I haven't been able to write or watch anything until tonight. I don't want to get into that yet. But things like blogs and stupid DVD collections sort of lose something in the wake of stuff like this. I haven't compartmentalized all the grieving.
Through the last two weeks, though, I have retreated to my wife and my circle of friends. On the night of Mom's calling hours, my wife and two good friends took me to the Heorot, which is my favorite bar in the world. My wife went to the jukebox and put on "Tom Sawyer." My friends Brian and Chris bought me dinner and a couple of drinks. We talked like we were all in college again. We laughed. I needed that hour or so with them so I could feel something other than what I was feeling. I felt normal.
I don't have the world in common with these guys, or my wife. I don't need the world in common with them. I just need them. My life is full of large collections, but they are my little collection. They are my only little collection, but the most important one of all.