Author: Protolexithymic

Non Fiction

Lighting and Fire (continued)

“What’s that?!”

‘I don’t know, looks like something’s caught fire.”

Something had caught fire in the lightning storm, but I couldn’t place where or what it might be that was burning.  I was trying to tick off geographical possibilities but none of them worked for the fires location.

“Where is that?” “How far away is that?”

“It can’t be too far away.  Someone’ll come along and put it out,” my dad said trying to revel in the peace left behind by the storm, and encouraging me to do the same.  I wasn’t deterred.  Even if it was only a few fields away it would be the largest fire I had ever seen.  “That was an awesome storm.”  he said, his grin returning to his face in response.  He crossed his arms behind his back and rocked back and forth on his feet;  to look at him was to witness contentment. He talked for awhile about cumulonimbus clouds, how they are formed, and moved on to other cloud types.  After some time I interrupted, “that fire is still going… I think its bigger.”

Stirred from his musings he looked over, “Goddamn it sure is, isn’t it?!”  He pondered on it for minute, his brow furrowing in the process, “You wanna go check it out?”

“Yeah!”

The imperial valley is farmed from end to end.  The patchwork of fields obstructs a direct trajectory but it is so flat that if you keep heading toward a point on the horizon, you will eventually make a zig zagged line straight to it.  My dad had a super big gulp and I had a slurpee as we set off to get a closer look.  We settled into a long silence, dusk turned to dark and our destination blazed bright on the Horizon.   As it dawned on my father that it was not a small fire we were going to see, his curiosity took on a tinge of concern.  “This fire we are going to see is huge,” was all he said.  I wasn’t sure if he wanted a response but his tenor took some of the joy out of the experience.  My innocent awe of nature’s beautiful power was meeting a sneaking sense of dread.

The fire was devastating something.

The lightning had caused the fire.

The lightning was devastating.

“What if we get hit by lighting?” I said no longer sipping my slurpee.

Moments like these were where my dads casual brightness served its greatest good.  He smiled and laid into a physics of electricity lecture, about the need for a ground and that a car would act like a faraday cage if struck by lightning.  “If hit by lightning,” he said, the car may suffer some damage but it should not affect the passenger.” I started to drink my slurpee again wondering how the fuck he knew all that, but he always seemed to know.  Despite his fabulous mind my father never received anything higher than a high school diploma, yet he rattled of knowledge of subjects I never experienced until college and even then occasionally corrected errors in my understanding.  I still wonder if he wishes he would have done more with his talent.

As we approached the location of the fire the sirens were a cacophony and the flashing lights were barely noticeable in the veiling glare of a crackling inferno.  The lightning had struck an energy plant that burned hay to generate power.  It was a single tower surrounded by a ¼ mile square of hay waiting in line to ride flames into the air.  I had to lean forward in my seat to see the top unobstructed by the truck’s roof.  Dust devils danced around the scene drawn in by the voracious appetite of the fire’s unyielding destruction.  It was dumbfounding.

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Film and Television

How I Hope Dexter Ends

I have kept up with Dexter over the last 8 years not because it is great television but because it is good television.  The team that produces the show do a pretty good job of story telling despite the myriad of holes a person could poke in the story if they were interested in doing so.  I think after Dexter blew Dokes up at the end of the second season, the average fan had to decide if they were just going to go with the show, or if it was a bit beyond the pale.  I decided to stick with it.

There are certainly a lot to questions. My most obvious personal beef is where the fuck are Astor and Cody.  Two children to whom Dexter was the only father figure to, and they are simply written out of the show.  Which speaks to the shows largest failure; that it deals to simply with questions that would get in the way of Dexter’s serial killer life style (Like Jaime Batista being perennially available).  The characters close to Dexter are simply there to provide easy answers to the difficult situations that might arise if one were to choose to lead a double life.  It would be hard to tell an escapist fantasy as ludicrous as Dexter without completely glossing over the details of a real life 30 something dad.

But, I don’t really watch the show for televisual excellence, I have been watching for the last eight years waiting to see if Dexter really is a serial killer.  If you watch the show you may be confused by that last sentence, since he is the most prolific serial killer in history.  But, I am of the opinion that Dexter wasn’t destined to be a serial killer.  Had Harry pursued therapy rather than creating his own fantasy vigilante I think Dexter would probably be a pretty normal person.  From about season three on I think the show has been playing with the idea of whether Dexter is a serial killer with a code or a normal person who was given seriously flawed guidance at a young and impressionable age.  Dr Vogel’s surprise at Dexter’s penchant for forming connections with the people in his life certainly speaks to the later.  The one consistent brilliant part of the show is the show open.  It is as watchable eight years later as it was when the show first aired, and I watch it nearly every time.  The casual violence of his morning routine also raises the question are Dexter’s quirks unique or ubiquitous?

What I would like to see happen is for Dexter to to be caught, for Deborah to go to jail, Harrison to be placed in the protection of the state, and for Miami Metro Homicide to have deal with the fact that they are shitty detectives.  I really like the show and all the characters, and I think it is the only plausible outcome for the story if removed from the ridiculous latitude afforded Dexter by his supporting cast.  What will probably happen is that Dexter will kill the brain surgeon, after Hannah McKay kills the US marshal and Deborah kills Elway.   That way Dexter and Hannah can live happily ever after in Argentina, and Deborah can go back to Miami Metro.  It will be perfect.  The specifics may be off, but I don’t have faith in team Dexter to challenge the 18 to 35 year old men who watch the show.  It would shatter their secret fantasies of what they could do if some one would just fill their life with people to take care of all there responsibilities.  Hopefully it wouldn’t be serial killing, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Book Review

The Magicians
By Lev Grossman

I am not an avid reader though I occasionally tear through a book I thoroughly enjoy.  The Magicians was one of the those books.  Not being an avid reader I imagine there are other examples of this sort of fantasy novel out there, but I haven’t come across them and I can’t imagine they are recommended by Junot Diaz.  The Magicians is set in contemporary Brooklyn and tells the story of Quinten Coldwater, a morose introverted teen whose wildest fantasy comes true.

I enjoyed this book because Grossman develops a pretty elaborate world that his characters inhabit but rather than focus on the lore and politics of this fantastical world the book spends more time in the head of its protagonist; who is jealous, petty, and repeatedly falls short of hero status in his capacity as both a magician and regular human being.  Grossman also adds odd details – like a huge fiery cock and balls on a fire golem – that seem more a contemporary take on  fantasy creatures of story tellers past.  Something about sex organs seems to contemporize things, I mean imagine the balrog in Lord of the Rings with a huge smoking cock… I digress.

Grossman creates a world that is much more human than fantasy.  Magicians are just people and though they can do magic, they have to figure out what to do with their magic ability once trained to use it.  The arch of this coming of age story should strike a chord with anyone who graduated college happy to be done but confused about what to do next.  Especially the D and D set, as well as anyone who feels like they should have tried harder.  By the end of the book I was a little sick and tired of Quentin constantly moping about despite having his dreams come true.  I think there is a gender and privilege criticism in their somewhere but I haven’t quite teased it out.  And, apparently the second book parallels his story to that of a lesser female character from this book.

Random Thoughts

Racism and Privilege are Difficult

When I heard Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ Same Love, I thought it was brave for a recently successful hip hop artist to rap about homosexuality (probably because of my own racially biased understanding of hip hop and homophobia).  I thought it was commendable and still do, but it also raises questions of race, homophobia, and to a lesser degree geography (considering the politics and racial diversity of a city that hasn’t produced a chart topping rap artist since Sir Mix A Lot).  I looked around and found this article on Racialicious that speaks pretty well to the issues.   As is the case with this subject matter it created a bit of a bloggers row with this gentleman on gawker.  While Mel Gebreamlak speaks in a bit of a prophetic voice, I don’t think he is all together wrong.  And while Macklemore seems to be well educated regarding his privilege in this song

He seems to be painfully uneducated regarding his racism in this video


Seriously dude!? A fucking shaman and a black guy on a camel (and unless they are an actual Mariachi Band from Seattle (which is possible) thats fucked up too).  While the narrative is all together pretty disjointed and goofy, there seems to be a running theme of the exoticized other in this video.  Racism and Privilege aren’t easy, in fact it is much easier to just be a white asshole, so it is good that Macklemore Ryan Lewis and Tricia Davis are trying.  Like the rest of us we just need to try harder.

Non Fiction

Lightning and Fire – Part 1

We lived one country block outside of town in a house my Dad helped to build.  Across the street from a telephone pole, a ditch, and an alfalfa field.  When the air was clear you could see northeast  to the chocolate mountains and west to the coastal mountain range.  The road was quiet.  The ditch was a small off-shoot of the major network of irrigation canals that fed the valley turning it from a dessert to farmland.  It was lined with concrete and too shallow to swim in, but you could jump over it, or stand in it, or play with toys in it.  When I was four my brother saved me from drowning in it.  Occasionally the field was dusted with pesticide by yellow planes that looked like a winged engine.  They were loud as fuck and the pilots seemed daredevils flying so fast and so low.  The telephone pole served as nothing more than, pellet gun target and Johnny owl perch.  Beyond there was a whole valley of country fun.  It was so hot I spent most of my days and into the night watching television, taking the occasional break to walk to a corner grocer and buy candy or hostess pies, stopping along the way to look at discarded pornography that had been scattered throughout a grove of salt cedars.  You could stand at the end of my driveway and pace yours to the breathing of the world taking in nothing but times undisturbed passing.  Except for once a year when the entire horizon was rapt by lightning.  The horizon suddenly risen to the tops of thunderheads rather than the peaks of the chocolate mountains, the grey gradient and flashes of brilliant color followed by a short loud crack and long slow rumble, the wind, the moist smell in the air.  In those moments the world no longer seemed indifferent.

A lightning storm from the end of my driveway was a gift.  My father and I seemed to find each other at the end of the driveway sharing it.  My father was always a big man.  He had deep set blue eyes under a serious brow.  He always seemed deep in thought.  Then he would sing The Platters, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” in a ridiculous voice.  He had dark hair and a matching beard hiding a square jaw.  In my child mind if God had a face it looked similar to my father’s.  He was light in his humor, capable of intimidating intellectual depth, and though good at making people laugh, he never seemed to carry himself with the lightness of the words he chose.  Sometimes when gaining my father’s attention it seemed he was leaving an internal dialogue that was unhappy or at least serious.  I’ve always assumed he was reliving moments of his addiction when he allowed his lesser angels to get the better of him.  Moments I knew of then and don’t care to share now.  When we watched lightning together the weight that I saw in him was lifted.  He had an easy grin and oohed and aahed at the same time as I did.  We were driven to laughter by an unbelievable force and while I was still a child and it made me happy to know that my Dad could share that wonder.

Film and Television

Hall Pass
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

Why?  Becuase I had time to kill and I like Jason Sudeikis.  Result?  It wasn’t funny.  Also, Owen Wilson really delivered some Owen Wilson (which is to say he sucked).  This movie is fucking stupid, captured most clearly by the big black dick/small white dick visual gag toward the end of the movie.  The Farrelly brother’s seem to have missed the gross mark on this one as well which makes me want to go back and watch Kingpin to see if I have changed or if they have.

Off the top of my head I would say they should stick to films where the relationship isn’t the main subject of the film.  They do just fine with it when it is ancillary to Jim Carrey’s split personality as Charlie Bailygates/Hank Evans, or Jack Black’s shallowness in Shallow Hal, mostly because the character’s are the joke.  In Hall Pass Owen Wilson and Jenna Fischer have too real of a relationship, leaving the Farely Brothers to make jokes around them rather than of them.

While the film does a good job of making single life look worse than married life, the writing of each is a caricature at best.  Ultimately the Farely Brothers are better at making caricatures of people than caricatures of life, and when they try to make caricatures of life the base, sophomoric, and insincere nature of their comedy is hard to watch… and I like fart jokes.

Non Fiction

If this place makes you cry come on baby stay a while – B Side Part 3

The other way that my time in Pacific Beach is catalogued in my memory is through the people I met and or spent time with.  Our neighboring apartment was occupied by a couple of longtime friends who had moved out from the midwest somewhere (i can’t recall where).  I think I was a little younger than they were, but one of them had a high motor and was always interested in hanging out.  I remember my primary interest at the time being the pursuit of the next distraction so this worked out well for a time.  Through our friendship he rediscovered skateboarding and shortly thereafter broke his foot.  Another friend of there’s moved out to San Diego and they got a house together with him and his girlfriend.  The introduction of he and his girlfriend into their living space was an ill fated arrangement.  The last time I hung out with them the five of us were in their living room and she decided to lay down in the middle of the floor, seemingly unmotivated.  She was laying in a way that offered me and my friend a fairly clear view of her vagina, and the room a tension that had not been there before.  The boyfriend became quietly morose, the two other guys quietly frustrated, me a little titillated and guilty upon realizing the state of the room, and she just seemed bored.  It was a fascinating moment of the low grade misogyny afforded a woman dating a man whose friends don’t like her.  I still am not sure if she was being bored or provocative, though my friend was convinced it was the later.  If I recall, they were all pretty boring people and aside from being high, I was pretty bored too.

After the dissolution of that relationship, the next group I remember spending time with was Satanic Panic’s circle of friends from college.  When I think about my time spent in San Diego these are the guys I remember being most comfortable around.  I think it was hanging out with them that helped me to realize a solution to my dissatisfaction.  Despite our past time consisting mostly of smoking weed, and skateboarding the experience of hanging out on a college campus, with college kids was inspiring to me.  And if I am honest, it was my favorite distraction from the narrative of my life because their life was the life I wanted for myself at the time.  I wanted to be a college kid, not a fucking smut peddler pothead with a slowly deteriorating mini-van and a total lack of belief in my future.  The fact that I didn’t like myself at the time makes me wonder why my girlfriend did and while it was my feeling that I wasn’t suitable to her that inspired me toward changing, it was hanging out with these guys that inspired the how to go about it, which is ultimately more important.  One of the group was this guy Robin who was a total fucking blow hard.  My investment in being crass and reductive at the time collided with his penchant for high brow nuance.  When I entered the house of this group of friends it was my schtick to say “what’s up negros?”  The depth of my racism wasn’t apparent to me until years later, but to his credit it was apparent to him then.  In short he was a blowhard but I was the asshole.  If we met now I think we would get along better.

The other two people whose memory stick most painfully in my mind are Jimmy and his sister whose name I can’t recall.  When I was 15 I was a lifeguard at the local pool in my hometown.   The pool was rarely frequented by customers but was a liability to leave unattended, hence my first in a long line of jobs getting paid sitting around and doing nothing.  At some point these two children would show up to the pool though neither of them could swim.  They spent the day in the kiddie pool and went home at closing. It was maybe a week after they started coming to the pool that I found Jimmy standing by the pool staring at the water with all the fear and determination that the innocent face of a four year old could muster.  After having asked him what he was doing, we worked out an arrangement that I would teach he and his sister to swim.  Weeks later I took personal pride in the joy I shared with them after they were able to swim across the pool and down to the bottom of the deep end.  I felt like a hero.  They stopped coming to the pool after they showed up with bruises on their backs and arms.  The pool attendant took it upon herself to call the authorities.  They were release to the custody of their parents that day and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized, the daily sight of them walking across the park alone to the pool from where ever they lived was an unusual practice for a couple of children, 4 and 5.

While living in Pacific Beach there were these two kids that lived in the same apartment complex.  They were the children of the family that was evicted and camped in the courtyard of the complex that Satanic panic alluded to in his earlier posting.  The two of them were cute kids.  She would have yard sales on the steps with items laid out on her blanket, and he was rambunctious and annoyingly persistent.  It wasn’t until I had moved to Santa Cruz that I made another belated realization.  Those kids were Jimmy and his Sister 5 years older.  Though I never did anything to harm them, I am sure they recognized me.  And, I am positive that with the wisdom attained through the life they had lived up until that point that they recognized substance abuse in me.  When I remember their faces smiling and my pride from having been a positive moment in there otherwise shitty life, it is now tarnished by the guilt of no longer being a hero in the lives of two people that seriously needed one.