Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Interesting but not compelling

I watched "Frost/Nixon" last night. Since it was based on a play, I figured that watching would not be as important as listening, so I knitted while it ran. That may have been a mistake because I have noticed that when I knit and "watch" a movie, I'm not really engaged in the movie. Occasionally I will pick up my knitting halfway through a movie, but that is because the movie is boring me, and I either must knit or quit watching. And I hate to leave a movie unfinished, just in case it gets better or the last ten minutes make it worthwhile.

Anyway, I have vivid memories of the 1972 election because it was the first election in which I was able to exercise my franchise. I was a hippie back in those days, and spent a sweaty day or two at the county fair, (wo)manning a booth for some liberal cause I cannot recall. I do remember the men associated with the Committee to Reelect the President, though, because they looked like mafia hit men in their dark suits. I mean, really. Who wears a suit to a county fair except goons who need to hide their gats?

Having lived through the era in question, I expected to feel a stronger sense of history from "Frost/Nixon" but did not. As much as I despised Tricky Dick back in the day, I have also harbored a secret sympathy for him, maybe because of a slight resemblance between him and my dad (specifically, the jowls). The movie did not feed my sympathy, either. Something about Langella's Nixon just did not do it for me. I think Nixon was meaner and darker and more wounded in real life. And David Frost is not all that interesting just by himself.

Would I recommend the movie? Only if there is nothing else you really want to see. If you have seen the previews, you have seen the best parts.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Do you hear what I don't hear?

My SO and I went to a concert last night: the Derek Trucks Band. I had never heard of them, but the SO was really excited. And I have to admit, I have never seen him enjoy a concert more. He was practically leaping out of his seat, and the whoops kept leaking out even after the music stopped.

I am the first to admit that, along with the fashion gene and the shopping gene, I am lacking the music gene. Last night was a case in point. I tried to make sense of the music, looked for layers, picked around for subtleties in the wall of sound they presented, but to me, Derek Trucks sounds like a one-layer lasagna or a casserole with too many strong flavored ingredients where every bite tastes the same. But judging by the outbursts from the crowd, I was alone in my opinion. They heard something that I did not.

Part of my problem is that I am simply musically ignorant. I don't know a chord progression from a shift in tempo, let alone anything about the roots of rhythm or the evolution of a musical genre. Last night's finale was a case in point. The central theme to the piece was the melody from "My Favorite Things". Surprised, I turned to my SO and said, "That's from 'The Sound of Music'." He does not like show tunes, so I was shocked when he responded, "Yeah!" Okaaaay. Maybe it was meant to be ironic? But each time the theme reappeared, the crowd went wild. WTF? After the concert, my SO explained that the piece was from an improvisational thing John Coltrane did live at Newport. Ohhhh. Did everyone in the audience know that? Most of them were old enough, so maybe. Or maybe they just liked what they heard.

And maybe I would go to another Derek Trucks Band concert given the chance, if only to try to hear whatever it is that I don't. I did hear the bass, though, and so did my sternum. Can one suffer from cardiac arrhythmia from too much vibration? And I liked the light show; I'd love to have a set of those swiveling lamps in my front yard at xmas time.

A local group, the Todd Harrold Band, fronted. Todd Harrold I have heard of, as he is a co-host of the Burnt Toast Show, and I knew he played locally but did not know just what. I would describe their music as drum-centric funk? The guitarist moves the way I imagine Bill Gates dances, which was amusing, and they also subscribe to the wall of sound school of music. My feet liked the beat. Would I buy a CD? Probably not, but if someone invited me to another of their concerts, I would go.

So, while I spent part of the evening wishing I was home piddling in the kitchen in my jammie pants and lobster slippers, I have to admit it was an interesting event. My SO accompanies me to folk music concerts and fiber arts festivals, and this weekend's date involves signing up for a cancer prevention study, so I think I can sacrifice the occasional night of listening to music that I don't hear.

And just so I am not the only one suffering from a brain itch: "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens/Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens/Brown paper packages tied up with string...."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Tricks I play

There is a co-worker in my office whose phone rings incessantly when he is not at his desk. For some reason, the calls don't roll over to voice mail. A ringing phone, especially one that you can't answer, is maddening. I don't really know this co-worker well, so I don't feel free to accost him in the hallway and tell him just how annoying his caller is. But I don't care to expend much emotional energy on this issue, either, so I pretend he has a relative who is mentally ill and who needs to contact him 24/7, sort of like the Laura Linney character's brother in "Love Actually". Then my quiet seething is transformed into Poor guy.

Several years ago, another co-worker spent a lot of time in our department conducting user tests on some new software. This woman tends to laugh - a lot - frequently to the point where she sounds like she is choking. It was rapidly driving me crazy. Again, I did not know her well enough to tell her to Shut the f*ck up! So instead, I pretended like she was my best friend. Oh, that Mary! There she goes again!

One more example is a contract worker who I considered a bit of a pompous asshole, but with whom I had to work on a regular basis. In order to calm my general crankiness toward this individual, I pretended his wife had cancer. Not that I wanted to wish her ill, but simply to generate a little compassion on my part. Give the guy a break.

I consider it part of my job to get along with my co-workers. Most of them are simply doing the best they can, sad as that seems sometimes. But occasionally I need to trick myself into being civil if not downright friendly, in order to get my work done.

Hey, it works for me.