Silence

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, sorry. Lots of not fun times, bit of pain and fatigue, just got to me, so I took a bit of a break. I had a few ideas of what to write, but none of them came to fruition, obviously. I haven’t really had the energy to go out with my camera and shoot, so I haven’t taken anything for fun in weeks. I can’t let that continue.

Special t-shirt for the evening, and my place in line.
Special t-shirt for the evening, and my place in line.

That was the plan for today, in fact, get up and go out with my camera after some breakfast and a couple of errands. I left the house before ten, planning to get to a restaurant that is very popular. I didn’t want to get there too late – I’d have had to wait half-an-hour if I did, or sit at the communal table with a bunch of strangers, and I just wasn’t in the mood for that. So, off I go, wait maybe ten minutes, sit reading my book (Order of the Phoenix), and enjoy a Belgian waffle with a lovely berry compote at my very own table. When I left, the line had gotten quite a bit longer; I timed it well.

Then to my errands. First, a book. The series by Kim Harrison (Dawn Cook), takes place in the Hollows and across the river – the Greater Cincinnati area. The book is to be released at midnight, September 9th. Since this is the primary setting, it only makes sense it kick off here, starting at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Today, I bought the final book in the series – The Witch With No Name. Well, not the book, but a place in line, and a future copy of the book. A VIP ticket, no less, so a guaranteed place in line. I’m going to be exhausted on the 9th. I keep going back and forth on taking the day off, since I will be extremely tired, but part of me doesn’t want to, because I have just over three days of vacation left. I think I need to get over that and just take the day off. It’ll be a wasted day at work, otherwise. Maybe I’ll feel better if I only take a half day, leave at noon so I can get home and get some sleep, but still stand a chance of getting something done at work. Going in late doesn’t appeal at all.

Anyway, the book had to happen. I already bought the tour t-shirt, which came in the mail the day after I asked about it. I knew it would be a while, since it was a special, low-volume run, it just took a little longer than I expected.

Thing is, yesterday was payday. A very large bill I had to pay off was paid, so I have a little more money than I’ve had for, oh, over a year-and-a-half. And I was in a bookstore. Probably could have made better decisions, but I mean, it’s a bookstore. That’s supposed to be okay, right? I had to buy the book previous, of course, and it happened to be available in paperback, thank goodness. I’m fighting the urge to buy the other one I have signed in paperback – the rest of the series is paperback, see, so it just makes sense. Looks better on the shelf if they’re all the same. All of my Harry Potter and Hunger Games books are hardcover, as is my Earth’s Children (Clan of the Cave Bear) series, because I could get the entire series in hardcover.

Just a couple more things...
Just a couple more things…

Right, so bought the penultimate book in paperback, then noticed there was a second series of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books. I had the entire first series – well, I used to, anyway. After I read the last one, I was so disappointed, I sold them all. Very upsetting, considering how many times I’d read the previous ten books. It felt like he’d phoned it in, like he had an intern outline the story, rather than writing it himself. The series was being turned into a television show (only two seasons); his attentions were divided. Still, the first ten – and the one-off book – were very good, so, I decided to give him a second chance – I bought the first book of the second series, and re-purchased the first three of the original. And a sonic screwdriver because why not?

I managed to walk out with just those few things, spending four times as much as I’d intended. But again, VIP place in line, so, worth it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Having failed at restraint for my first errand, I thought I would give my second a try. I needed a new pillow. I’d bought one a couple days ago, big and fluffy, thought it might help. Woke up in pain, so no. A new pillow was necessary, I’m afraid, and I’d have to spend more than $9.99 on it. Off to Bed Bath and Beyond. “Beyond,” by the way, did not involve a trip into a weird space, just going through the kitchen goods. I’d forgotten how hard it was to walk through kitchen goods. I bought a new cutting board – something I’d been looking for for months, so I don’t feel too badly about that, and of course a pillow which, hopefully, will be more effective than the last. The Beyond, however, included more than just a cutting board – a very nice cutting board, mind you, it should work better than the ones I have now, flat, no gutter, no stabilization, might as well just use the counter. There were pans. Nothing spectacular, just a couple of skillets, 8″ and 10″, ceramic-coated, well-weighted, oven-safe handles. Oh, and Calphalon. I’m not a huge fan of my current kitchen, but I do still enjoy cooking. I have cheaper ceramic pans, a little 8″ one, and a smaller, cheaper, 7″ one, both of which I do like. I’d wanted a larger one for some time, just hadn’t found one. So technically it wasn’t a splurge, because it was something I was going to buy anyway. So there. Yeah, I think that rationalizes it quite nicely.

Mostly, I’m glad I had the restraint to not walk into Sur la Table. That could have gotten bad. 

Hopefully it will cool off again – end of August and summer finally shows up – so I can go out shooting. I must admit, the mornings and evenings are wonderful – steamy, thick air, full of the song of annual cicadas and crickets and whatever else is out there in the trees singing away, and a stillness, a peace, while everything makes preparations for the winter to come. Fairly recently, there was a very foggy morning. Maybe 70 degrees outside, 100% humidity, low visibility, air you could cup in your hand and drink. I’d wished it were a Saturday or Sunday, so I could get in my car and find a park overlooking the river, and just sit, watching the mist caress the buildings, swirling around the cars on the road, gradually rising as the sun became stronger, finally burning off in the middle of the morning.

I loved that morning.

I hope to get back into the swing by next Saturday, if not Wednesday. For now, though, I think I’m done. Besides, the 2nd episode of this season’s Doctor Who is starting soon…

DW Capaldi Eyebrows

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*Yes, Harry Potter. Would you rather find I was reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond – about the possible influence climate and geography had on human expansion?
I mean, I do actually own it; I’m just reading Harry Potter right now, okay?

I Have To

I do, really; I have to talk about Robin Williams.

I think about my childhood, about watching Mindy (Pam Dawber) drive into Boulder in her little Jeep Wrangler. I see Mork (Himself) in his bright red uniform, I hear his voice, I see him take the Vulcan greeting and turn it on its side. Even though I watched the reruns of Star Trek, it was Mork and Mindy that had me practicing, so I could greet my friends properly.

Since I was young, he was always there. Making us laugh and think, as an alien reporting back to his superior – even then I knew that was something to listen to – or staring in a cheesy movie with songs I can’t get out of my head (I own it on DVD…couldn’t help it), or performing standup at the Met, something I didn’t get to see until I was a bit older, he was there.

As I’ve alluded to before, my childhood wasn’t the best. It wasn’t the worst, either – I did then and do now have a family that cares about me, that loves me, that is there for me, I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge – but it wasn’t the best. The worst bits didn’t happen at home, and I’ve dealt with depression and trauma for pretty much my whole life. Even then, I could connect to Robin Williams. He was the first one who let me see the tragic clown. He wasn’t an object of pity or derision, he was getting on with it. I imagined I could see his pain even when he was bouncing off the walls – especially then, actually. Frenetic, manic energy, never sitting still long enough for the world to get him, he inspired me.

Lunken Moon_0002a
Dark isn’t always negative

After that, I started paying more attention to the comedians and comic actors. Not always, but it seems some of the best comedy comes from pain. I know it often does for me. Oh, I can’t always laugh, of course not, but sometimes, sometimes I can. Sometimes I have to. I’ve developed a rather dark sense of humor; coupled with what can only be considered my Saharan side,* it can make for, um, interesting times when I might laugh. Sometimes I’m the only one who sees it.

That humor, though, dark, dry or just plain odd, it can keep me going when nothing else will.

I’ve stood at the Abyss; I’ve watched gravel fall into the darkness, heard it hit the walls of the canyon, disappearing but never hitting bottom. Dark as my humor can be, there’s nothing so dark, so oppressive, as that Abyss. I do what I can to avoid it, to stay away, to not even see it with binoculars. It’s not a place anyone wants to be – might be tempted to take that last step once you’re there.

If you know someone who is there, don’t tell them it will get better. Don’t say others have it worse, or that they have nothing to be sad about. These are the things that could push them over. Their minds are already telling them how worthless they are, how useless, what a waste of space, how everyone would be better off without them; tell them others have it worse, and you’ve just proven their point. Sit there, be there, be patient, talk if they want, just sit if they don’t. In that place, going to someone for help may be completely overwhelming, so don’t expect them to come to you. And if the worst should happen, and you did all you could, just remember that sometimes, even the best isn’t good enough.

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*In addition to dark and quirky, my sense of humor can also be called dry. Extremely dry. Like the Sahara. Get it now? Okay.

Time.com Remembrance

Story of the Fisher KingThe Fisher King

A Noisy Noise

**This post discusses sounds that may cause extreme discomfort in some people.**

A noisy noise annoys a noisy oyster.

Y’know how there are some sounds that are just like nails on a chalkboard? Something that goes straight to the brain at the base of your spine? A sound that is so irritating, it can be used as a cliché? Of course you do. Everyone has a noise or two that annoys them, that makes them have to leave the room or make it stop. Some of them have a biological function, like a baby or child crying. A parent who hears that will feel the urge to make it stop, hopefully by changing or feeding or holding, something positive like that. There are some who make other choices, but they’re not good examples. Others we are conditioned to respond in a particular way, like a siren* or a bell. A tornado siren may mean there’s a strong chance of a nasty storm, or that a nasty storm is already happening and it’s about to get much worse. A bell could mean it’s time to change classes, or someone is at the door. These are relatively universal responses.

Then there’s the extreme response.

08-18-2013 048a
Perhaps this image will be a bit more soothing.

Nearly everyone can agree that the constant thump thump thump of a loud bass line is annoying, especially when it’s actually loud enough to make things around it vibrate. Some people will do what they can to make it stop, or at least go away from it. Maybe if it’s disruptive enough, they’ll even call the police for a noise violation. Others may say something about making the noise stop, describing what they might do to the perpetrator. The assumption in that situation is that the person is all talk, getting their frustrations out verbally, and that’s fine. Still others may literally fly into a rage and have to actively keep themselves from going after the source of that noise and forcibly stopping it, with no thought to the consequences. That’s what misophonia† looks like. Maybe “sounds like” would be more appropriate, although it appears there’s also a visual version of it, where there may not necessarily be a sound, but the sight of something that causes it might be enough.

Looking around online, I found an even better description by Reddit user Sango 12592

“Imagine trying to focus on something when very angry wasp starts hovering around you, threatening to sting. You want to run, hide, or fight back. You can feel the adenine pumping. You realize this is an extreme response. It’s not like it can do you you [sic] any real harm, but your body is acting on an instinct. You can’t control how you feel or concentrate on anything until it’s gone.”

In the simplest of terms, it’s a dramatic overreaction to a common sound. Whether I’m actually dealing with misophonia or have something else going on, I do know that both continuous loud thumping bass and lip-smacking will send me into a rage. For the second, there may be other reasons it bothers me so much; the point, however, is that it will make me irrational, and that’s not something I like to be.

It’s not about loud; the heavy bass when it’s loud is irritating. I still don’t like it, but no one does. Well, that’s not quite true – some people like it, otherwise they wouldn’t keep doing it. That reminds me, I need to buy some stock in a company that makes hearing aids. Should be a booming business within the next few years.

When that bass – or any music for that matter – is at a volume where most people are not irritated, where it’s not particularly loud or particularly annoying, when the bass is thumping, but I can’t hear anything else with it, no lyrics no other instruments, then it infuriates me. Yes, that’s the right word for it, infuriate. I have in the past stepped outside on my porch, someone parked in front of the house beside me, car running, music thumping, and explained in no uncertain terms that what they were doing was bothering me and it needed to stop immediately. Now, I don’t live in the best part of town. I don’t live in the worst, either, but I do live close to the worst part of my neighborhood. What that means is there are people who are armed, who are doing things they shouldn’t be doing, things that would likely get them arrested if not killed. Been a while since we’ve had a shooting over here, so there’s that. I mention that because here, stepping outside at night, yelling at some random stranger for disturbing me, could actually be a little dangerous. It’s something I have to consider, to remember when I hear things. Like I said, I’m far from the worst part of town, just the worst part of my neighborhood. I know this. Someone knocking on my door in the evening had better be someone I know. During the day too, for that matter.

My neighbor and I have had it out more than once with her music playing at night. It’s not as bad as it has been in the past, thankfully. I’ve had a few overreactions to that, too.

So how much of that is misophonia, and how much is just the whole “Highly sensitive person” thing? I don’t know. What I do know is loud sounds, bright lights, and rough fabrics hurt, and music that is just barely loud enough to hear will make it about impossible for me to do anything else. Thank goodness for earbuds.

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*Growing up with this testing schedule, my first response when I hear the siren is to check my watch, see if it’s noon. They don’t run the test if a tornado watch has already been issued.

†Also Selective sound sensitivity syndrome.

A more amusing look at misophonia. Again, if you’re sensitive, this could be difficult to read.

Esquire profile of musician Paul Tabachneck, who also suffers from misophonia

The Second One

I have a confession to make – I like bad movies.

Not the excruciating ones, the ones that are a train wreck with severed limbs and decapitations, hard to watch, and you have to look away – like Plan 9 from Outer Space; that one’s just bad – I like the ones that are still enjoyable. In the early years of cable, I got to see such classics as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and The Toxic Avenger. Granted, those were supposed to be funny, but that doesn’t make them any less awful. Then there is my personal favorite, Flash Gordon. The movie itself is questionable – poor direction, stilted dialog, campy effects – and yet…it all comes together in a glorious romp through space with one of the best soundtracks ever! I have it playing in another tab right now. Granted, the style was intentional, trying to attract the crowd that enjoyed campy comic book movies, but it was intended – by the writer, anyway – to be serious. I bought it on DVD within a month of its release. Sadly, some kids broke into my home and stole all my DVDs, and I hadn’t been able to replace it. Actually, I didn’t realize until just now that I hadn’t replaced it. I think I need to address that.

Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon

I’m not really sure when my appreciation for bad or campy movies really started. In the days before we had cable – yes, young ones, there really was such a time – there were three independent channels that I could get on the TV, on a clear day, two in town, one out of Dayton.

The three independent channels would play movies all day Saturdays and Sundays, up to three a day, staggered so they didn’t all start at the same time. One channel would begin at noon, another at one. Because they were independent, they couldn’t afford the blockbusters unless they were a good twenty years old. What that meant was there were classic movies, some in color, some in black & white, playing all day long. I didn’t watch all the time, of course; in those days we did this thing called “playing outside,” an unstructured period of time that might include balls or tag or bicycles or wandering around the neighborhood. If the weather wasn’t cooperating, or you didn’t feel well, or your mom was out of the house and you weren’t allowed to leave until she came back, though, it gave you something to do.

They played the classics, of course, but they also played the movies that no one really wanted to admit they were involved with. Honestly, it was so long ago, I couldn’t tell you what I saw, but I know there were classics and camp. There was nothing like a rainy Saturday afternoon watching the early, matinee, and late shows. Once cable came along, I thought those days were over. Not so! Those independent channels continued to play movies all day, even after they became network affiliates. One became Fox, another UPN, another the WB. That was a little sad. They saw 20th Century Fox (see why they just go by Fox now?) having success with their network, and they wanted in on the action. Fox was new and interesting, while the WB and UPN had shows with limited audiences, rather than the mainstream. That’s a discussion for another post, though.

Still, bad movies were on the air, and now they were on 24 hours a day. That, I believe, is when I finally saw Flash Gordon. At least, I don’t remember seeing it in the theater. Couldn’t have been more than ten minutes in before I was hooked. It wasn’t my first bad or campy movie, not by a long shot. I’d already seen Killer Tomatoes and Toxic Avenger by this point, not to mention reruns of Batman. This one, however, was something unexpected. I watched it several times, but never had it on video tape (those big black plastic rectangles that you stick in a VCR). I realized then that it would be my life’s mission to seek out the bad movies and decide for myself if they were entertaining or just painful.

Robby (or Robbie) the Robot in Forbidden Planet
Robby (or Robbie) the Robot in Forbidden Planet

There was a recreation center we went to after school. It was cheaper than a babysitter, and there were classes and things to do, so we weren’t just sitting around. I learned how to cook and even make candy there, took ballet, gymnastics, did all sorts of crafts, made a few movies, and took photography, complete with darkroom experience. That one stuck with me for a bit. There was also a movie time that took place in the old gymatorium.* That didn’t last very long. I remember the person running it. His name was Corky. I have no idea how old he was. When you’re 11 and small, everyone’s a grownup. He would find old movies to play for us on a film projector – VCRs were new and expensive – and kids of course would go home and tell their parents what they saw. I don’t know what it was that we saw that my mother didn’t like; I just remember her getting upset and saying that wasn’t appropriate to show to young children. The movies ended not long after that.

Maybe that’s where it began, in that dark room with 100 of my peers, watching old horror movies.

The great Roger Corman (Death Race 2000-producer; Sharktopus-producer) always seems to be involved in some way in the low-budget or movie arena, usually as a producer if anything. He’s not, although he does have quite a few to his name. He’s introduced the world to such insignificant directors as James Cameron (The Terminator, Avatar), Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, The Wolf of Wall Street), and Ron Howard (Cocoon, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind), and actors Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, and Sandra Bullock. If you read the article, you’ll see that he thinks he’ll be nothing more than a footnote – there’s just no way; his influence is too strong.

Now, of course, there’s the movie Sharknado, and the first sequel, Sharknado 2: The Second One.† I didn’t watch Sharknado when it first aired. I’d been avoiding SyFy’s bad movies, mostly because I didn’t remember they were on. I had heard at one point that some of the bigger starts wanted a SyFy movie on their resumes now, because of how popular they were. I still hadn’t watched many, in spite of the glowing reviews from my bad cinemaphile friends. Sharknado was different. I’m sure everyone remembers all the buzz and excitement about this one. I watched the re-broadcast. Once again, I was in love.

I like bad movies. I’m okay with that.

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*The rec center was added on to my school as part of the new building, and included a gymnasium. The old one just stayed a lunchroom and auditorium.

†See? The title makes sense now, doesn’t it?