Saturday, November 20, 2010

Empassioned Frustration and Frustrated by Passion

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
- Yeats, The Second Coming

I've always loved Yeats' Second Coming as it tends to nicely sum up just how screwed up the world is in which we live.

But the line above strikes me on a more philosophical level in that it nicely describes the paradox of mental and psychological well being. It's becoming painfully obvious that the most "well adjusted" among us are usually the least passionate, perhaps even being coldly detached.

Lord knows I find myself trying to detach myself emotionally from the world, because I've had issues with lack of emotional control in the past and it's led to some pretty thorny situations. So, I understand that to lack passion/conviction/ideological dedication serves as an almost necessary armour in this "screw the other guy" world we live in. But I just as strongly recognize that this is an unsustainable way to live and think. Lack of empathy with our fellow human beings has gone on quite long enough.

How many more wars, genocides and enslavement must we witness before we start giving a damn?

Now, caring about the fate of others is all well and good, but on the flip side, being a complete bleeding heart with no emotional restraint only serves to paint a bulls eye on you and you'll suffer until you're completely drained of your compassion.

And to make matters worse, it's common enough that these empassioned humans are the ones in psychotherapy, sucking back Paxil until the drugs suppress that passion. To be an emotionally driven person is a weakness, perhaps even a sickness, according to our social norms of 'wellness'.

So, it's a "damned if you care, damned if you don't" Catch-22. Wellness is simply an illusion and all we can try to do is find our own answers and, I guess, be selective where we choose to open our hearts. But even that is a Herculean task for those individuals who haven't learned to rein in their emotional reactions. I have many people close to me who straddle that nigh-unlivable line. They are passionate, kind, loving souls, which is what draws me to them in the first place, but then the ugly side shows in that they feel all the negatives very strongly, too much so? They cry a lot, they often feel persecuted or let down, and often have difficulty with disappointment. I used to be like that (worse, really), but I had to harden my heart against emotional reactions for my own health, but I think there have been consequences. I suffer from panic attacks on occasion and I can't deny the suspicion that it's because I've repressed a lot of emotions over the course of my life. Is the panic a backlash?

So, what is the true path to wellness both within in how we react, and without, in how we show sympathy without entwining our well being in the well being of others?

In the end though, I think I'd rather interact with the passionate train wrecks than the reliable robots. As long as they don't mind me giving the occasional reminder that bad things are rarely as bad as they feel.

Now, my passage today is an attempt to put the emotional conflict I feel within into words.

November 20, 2010

It's okay, there's nothing to worry about. Don't look over your shoulder at the plotting shadows. They aren't real, only the fear they engender is. (But that fear makes them real!)

No one's out to get you, are they? (I don't know, but better to be suspicious than victimized...)

I can't be a victim of paranoia and I hope you can't either, but I feel it as tangible. There's hot breath on my neck and the Sword of Damocles hangs over the world entire. I know it's all in my head, and yours too. And the frustration over the inability to dispel it is maddening.

Smash out! Hit something! Murder the dread!

If we let everyone in, if everyone is our brother and sister, that might do the trick. You think you can handle that? Me neither. Oh well, at least we're trying...

Just remember this: better to risk being screwed over by everyone than never get close to anyone.

Now stop crying before I start tearing up too.

-Dedicated to anyone who fits the bill-

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Post to Boredom At Work!

I don't why, but I get easily bored at work. Oh wait, I know why: I watch the news for a living and unless there's some kind of disaster or scandal, things are pretty slow. As we like to say in the office: An exciting day for us is bad news for Canadians. So, be glad it's slow.

Anyhoo, usually when I'm bored but not feeling super-creative, I get into lists. Now, with this in mind, I'm going to fire off a list of my favourites/least favourites in the world. Afterwards, I'm going to spin a tale based on a dream I once had about dealing with nightmares. Yes, I had a very memorable dream at around 17-18 about how to ward off nightmares. It's weird, but then again so am I.

November 13

Listing favourites/least favourites


Favourite: Oh man, ummmmm... everything? I guess the one food I can never really have enough of is my dad's BBQd steak. He marinates it in, of all things, Kraft Catalina dressing. I've been known to nibble through over a pound of the stuff.

Least favourite: There really isn't much I don't like eating. I do have an aversion to green peppers, but that's for gastro-intestinal reasons.

I guess I'd have to say baked beans, but I've had some at really high end places like Play and Whalesbone and that has definitely shifted my opinion.


Favourite: As cliché as it sounds, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien has a special place in my heart and would have to be undeniably my favourite book. I don't think it's because it's so well written (it can get pretty draggy, especially the beginning), but rather because of its impact on my life. It was really the first book I read on my own as a kid that wasn't from school. My brother read it to me when I was about 5-6 also.

As for my favourite book for being a great book, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is definitely up there. Honourable mentions to Headhunter by Timothy Findley and Imajica by Clive Barker.

Least favourite: Umm, my Grade 10 math book? There are few books out there that I dislike. I am not a fan of much poetry, so perhaps The Collected Works of Alexander Pope can rot in hell...

Most difficult reads: Ulysses by Joyce, naturally, The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, naturally, and Shake Hands with the Devil by Roméo Dallaire (it's his account of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, so yeah, not easy to get through).


Favourite: The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. Hands-down. Best TV show ever made, except the last 40 minutes or so of the finale, which was somewhat cheesy. I recently got my girlfriend hooked on it too! Mwahahahahaha!

Least favourite: I had to sit through about 5 episodes of America's Next Top Model last season (there are drawbacks to dating a fashionista). Pretty much all "Reality TV" makes me wince.


Favourite: Oooooh, now that's a tough one. Let's categorize, shall we?

Overall: Going to have to go with The Empire Strikes Back. It was about as grim as it gets for a 6-year-old. That movie cemented Darth Vader as the best badass of all time. It almost makes one able to forget that there was ever a character named Anakin Skywalker.

Favourite action: Predator. "If it bleeds, we can kill it.". 'nuff said.

Favourite horror: Does Shaun of the Dead count as horror? Let's say it does. Because frankly, I don't like many horror movies. I absolutely ADORE this one.

Favourite comedy: The Big Lebowski. I want to be The Dude. That's my long term goal. I could even stand to have Walter as my best friend!

Favourite animated/kid's movie: Monsters Inc. Most Pixar made films are masterpieces, but there's something about the cleverness of this one that just keeps me coming back for more. "Mike Wazowski!"

Favourite sci-fi: Probably Blade Runner.

Favourite 'drama': Cool Hand Luke. I like it more each time I watch it.

Favourite fantasy: LOTR, natch. Mind you, if they nail Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it might be usurped.

Favourite Super-hero (I LOVE that this is now a viable genre of movie): The Dark Knight. I could go on and on about Heath Ledger's Joker, which is one of the best villainous performances of all time, bar none. Even Orson Welles' Hank Quinlan from Touch of Evil or Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter don't quite equal the brilliance of Ledger's Joker, mostly because you don't really know if it's madness or vision that motivates the character. He's so evil you're not sure he even recognizes it in himself. And certainly he doesn't care.

But what really makes me love the film so much is the pacing, you don't really get any breathers, even though it's over 2.5 hours long.

Least favourite: Can I say "most disappointing"? That, my friends, would be Spider-Man 3. I almost pulled back flips when I heard they were bringing Venom to the big screen. Then I heard they had cast Eric fracking Foreman (Topher Grace) as Eddie Brock. Eep! I maintained my resolve that it could still be good. They could throw in a touch of the Carnage character and literally make a leaner and meaner Venom.

(SPOILER!) But no, after 2 hours of bloated plot and Emo-Spidey, Venom is relegated to about 20 minutes of screen time and is damn near laughable. One of Marvel's best villains and certainly Spidey's true nemesis and he gets smoked by a Pumpkin Bomb? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?!?!?!



If you've read my September 2 post on "Little bits of musical discovery", a lot of this may seem like a repeat. But hey, why not?

Favourite band(s): I've pretty much had a "top 5 bands" for a while now, but it's gotten a little muddled over the years. But there's two bands that have always stayed at the top, and always will. Those bands are Motorhead and Fishbone. Motorhead because they are still at it, they are immortal, and they are HEAVY! Also, Lemmy is simply cool incarnate. He's ugly, he's scuzzy and he doesn't care. He also happens to be one of the most genuine people in the world. If you get a chance, watch the documentary Ringers (it's about LOTR fans) and be amazed by his spiel on the 60s (Yep, one of Metal's founding fathers was once a dirty hippie).

Fishbone, to me, are one of the hardest working and underrated bands of all time. After their '96 show (documented in a previous post), I was humbled.

So, it's not even the music, really, it's the attitude of both these bands that keep them as my faves.

Others in the "top 5" (in rotation): Tragically Hip, Underworld, Mastodon, Tool, The Who, Rush

Favourite album: Again, it has something to do with the impact on my life at the time, I guess, but for some reason White Zombie's Astro Creep 2000 keep resurfacing as my fave.

Favourite song: Out of all those bands I love and tunes I've listened to over the years, how the heck can I narrow down a favourite song? Well, because it's simply brilliant, while still being a visceral experience. The song in question is Baba O'Reilly by The Who, the first track off of Who's Next. Maybe it's the guitar solos, maybe it's the violin, maybe it's Daltrey's vocals. I don't know, but every time I hear it, I get goosebumps. And the song title is BABA O'REILLY, NOT Teenage Wasteland! Get it right, people!

Least favourite band: Hedley. Why? I'll tell you. It was Ottawa Bluesfest 2007, I had just had my mind and ears blown by Buddy Guy playing a blistering set with the backdrop of the Ottawa River behind the stage. It was just an AWESOME experience. Now, the layout of the festival meant having to go by the main stage where Hedley was playing to exit the premises. So, I had to suffer listening to those pop-rock bubblegum cheese-monkeys and their crap started pushing out the residual musical joy of Mr. Guy's performance. I was irate. I'd never heckled a band publicly before, but was I ever letting them know how much they sucked THAT night! Fracking jerks!

I think that's enough for now on favourites, now for a story from my subconscious.

I'd always had trouble sleeping as a teenager, half because of insomnia, half because of nightmares (a lot of nasties beating me up, killing me, eating me, etc. Not fun). So, somehow my subconscious mind came up with the idea of assembling a team of the most kick butt characters to come into my dreams and watch my back and possibly kick some monster ass.

This "dream team" (groan) was quite an eclectic mix:

First, there was Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Because, really, in a scrape, I'd want Picard at my back more than any other Starfleet captain. Wouldn't you?

Also, this was 1992, so TNG was in its 6th and (maybe) best season.

Next was Wolverine. After all, Wolverine is pretty much the most arse-kicking superhero there is. Think about it, wouldn't you want someone with claws that cut through anything who can't really die taking care of the boogeyman for you?

As an aside, I wonder what would happen if Wolvie took on Superman. Could adamantium claws cut into Superman's skin? Would Supes' heat vision be able to kill Wolverine? Hey Marvel and DC, look into it! That would be one hell of a crossover!

Third member was Lemmy.

Yeah, sure, a Rock God can whoop dream-demons or whatnot. Well, if ANY 'mere mortal' could step up, it'd be Lemmy! Also, in my dream, he used his bass as a weapon and bludgeon monsters with it.

The last addition to the "dream team" was a loverly fellow by the name of Peloquin. The film Nightbreed had been released a couple of years previous with a follow-up comic series and one thing was clear: the most kickass monster to come out of Clive Barker's warped vision was Peloquin. He was ornery and vicious, the explanation for his addition being "might as well use someone worse than the enemy".

The last member was me, of course, armed with a pair of tonfa. Not sure why...

Hope you enjoyed this story of weirdness... BUT there is a lesson to be learned, which is this: If you or a loved one are having persistent nightmares, maybe this form of directed dreaming can help!

Well, that took care of 3 hours on shift...

Back to trying to find news...