Thursday, 21 April 2011
Here are three notable events from today:
- The professor passed back our “draw the House of Usher” assignment. Before doing that, though, he showed each student’s artwork on the overhead projector. The first drawing he showed was phenomenal; the house was exactly as I pictured it, the drawing was skillfully down with shadows, perspective, and great detail. It appeared to have been done in chalk (or peharps just those fancy-schmancy pencils). My first thought upon seeing this was, “Crap, these classmates are talented!” Alas, that was the best one of the bunch. The others ranged from simple, geometric, haphazardly drawn pictures (that I imagine were created in the five minutes prior to class) to quite a bit better than mine.
Oh – and as promised, here’s mine:
Check out those eyes on the curtains, man! That’s my piece de resistance. The text doesn’t exactly say that there are eyes on the curtains (it says the windows themselves were shaped like eyes), but I interpreted this via the Salvador Dali segment of Hitchcock’s Spellbound (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about here, you really need to rent Spellbound), and it apparently impressed the Professor enough to where he pointed them out to the class when my picture was displayed on the screen.
2. I wrote THIS ARTICLE concerning the bullshit prediction of the Rapture coming on May 21st. The article was, today, selected for MinnPost’s Blog Cabin. The proprietors of that site scan many, many local websites everyday and choose the post they feel is most read-worthy. So, today, they picked mine. Good for me.
3. This evening, my wife and I watched the film The King’s Speech. It was a rather good flick. I mean, the story wasn’t particularly amazing, neither was there any edge-of-my-seat moments, but for a historical drama, it was really good. Like many historical dramas, it suffers from assuming the viewers have a deep knowledge of the time and place they are being immersed in, but I don’t think that negated the good points. In fact, the best aspect was the acting. Colin Firth, who played King George VI, was completely believable; there was no point when I thought, “This guy doesn’t really stutter, he’s just playing a guy who stutters.” He deservedly was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor. Of course, he did have an unfair advantage (not that I mean to diminish Firth’s performance, because he did deserve the award) – and that is that the Academy looooves to give Oscars to actors who portray real people with disabilities.
Don’t believe me? I’m sure there’s a comprehensive list out there somewhere, but here’s a top-of-my-head listing of people who were nominate for acting Oscars for portraying real disabled people:
Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot (quadriplegia)
Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker (blind and deaf)
John Hurt, The Elephant Man (Proteus Syndrome)
Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind (schizophrenia)
Judi Dench, Iris (Alzheimer’s)
Geoffrey Rush, Shine (schizoaffective disorder)
Jamie Foxx, Ray (blind)
James Franco, 127 Hours (amputee)
Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July (paralysis)
Jon Voight, Coming Home (also something requiring a wheelchair)
Harold Russell, The Best Years of Our Lives (limb deficiency)
Russell’s performance is particularly noteworthy – he didn’t have to act like a man who had no hands, because he really is (was) a man with no hands!
Of course, if there are no historical people to cull from, the Academy will look to fictional characters, such as Jane Wyman’s portrayal of a deaf woman in Johnny Belinda, or Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets (or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Hillary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, or Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise – who both portrayed disabled people in Forrest Gump – or even Kevin Spacey, who portrayed a man pretending to be disabled in The Usual Suspects.
I think AnnaSophia Robb has a good shot at getting the Oscar nod next January:
Friday, 22 April 2011
Today I let a co-worker borrow all my beer brewing equipment (well, not all my equipment – I kept my bottles).
Do you know how often I let people borrow things? Pretty much never. So, I guess this is a big day for me.
I have a problem with letting people borrow stuff, and it’s not just because I don’t want people to borrow stuff (because, in fact, I often do). My problem is that most people – closest friends included – just don’t seem to have the wherewithal to return stuff. I could list off the books, DVDs, and CDs that I’ve lost to people over the past 25 years as well as who borrowed which thing and then, however inadvertently, never returned it.
I practically cringe when people ask to borrow stuff, hoping that they’ll forget they asked if I let some time go by or change the conversation. And the reason is because this leads to the other problem, wherein I have to remind the person constantly. They keep forgetting, I keep reminding. I just end up looking like the bad guy, even though I was the one who was, essentially, robbed. Once, back in 1988, a friend asked to see a book that I had brought to school one day. He wanted to see if for a few hours, and he promised to give it back at the end of the day, when we saw each other getting on the bus. Problem was, he left early that day because he was sick. The next day, I asked him for my book back. He forgot it at home. Same thing with the next day, then the next day, then the next day. I never saw that book again.
Another time, back in 1999, I brought in a U2 CD to work. A co-worker asked if she could bring it home overnight. I let her do it (saying no to things like this is also perceived as jerky). The next day she forgot it. I reminded her everyday, but she kept forgetting – even after she put in her two-week’s notice to quit. Finally, on the last day of her employment, I asked if she brought the CD. She said she didn’t, but that she promised she would bring it on Friday when she returned to pick up her last paycheck. I said, “Well, see that you do, otherwise you’ll have to write me a check for $18.” She looked at me incredulously, as if I was the biggest asshole who ever lived because I dared to request payment for an item she stole from me. She returned on Friday… and my CD was with her. With her, actually, it was easy, because I didn’t care if she thought I was a jerk or if she didn’t want to be my ‘friend’ anymore. Usually the situation is a bit stickier.
So why allow someone to borrow my beer brewing equipment? Two reasons:
First, I got into beer brewing in part because someone was kind enough to allow me to borrow their equipment. So, I guess I owe it to someone else now, in some kind of Karmic manner, to pass on what was given to me. Oh – and yes – I am completely hypocritical in this manner: I don’t let people borrow my stuff, but I have no qualms about borrowing items from other people whenever I feel so inclined. My only defense is that I return items – sometimes even after the borrower has forgotten that I borrowed the item. (I don’t forget.)
Second, beer brewing equipment is a “big” thing. Unlike a CD or a book, it takes up a lot of space, and it costs (relatively) a lot of money. It would be difficult for the borrowee to neglect to return or reimburse me for the item at some point in the future.
I guess the take away lesson from this is that you probably shouldn’t ever waste your time asking to borrow a book on my shelf, but if you need to use my car for a week…have at it.