Monday morning

Sadness is irritating. Melancholy steals up as self-pity at the oddest moments, with no warning whatsoever. It then quickly generalizes. Sadness is contagious in a different way than happiness is. (But thank God happiness is.)

I just watched Beginners. It was sweet. And sad. Melanie Laurent cries beautifully.

My first offshore hitch is just about to end. There’s something very freeing about having the logging unit all to myself and not having to share it with someone else. Loneliness is sort of inherent in the situation anyway. If you only have a limited set of people that you’re trapped with in the middle of the ocean (or a few miles from shore, as the case may be, you need a chopper to get you in anyway) then the chances are you’ll get sick of them sooner or later. Rationing is critical.

I still haven’t managed to catch a sunrise or a sunset, even though I’m awake at both times, usually. The sunrise is on the side that the mast and most of the hoopla of the rig is, but I bet I could still click some lovely pictures if I tried.

I am listening to Elvis croon love Me Tender and dissolving in a placid puddle of self-absorption.

Hollywood and “Creative Professionals”

I want to think aloud for a bit, and maybe by the time I’m done I will have said something coherent and even something illuminating. Blogs are meant for experiments like this, after all.

So. Fact 1: people who make movies are pretty much by definition creative professionals*. This implies but does not necessitate that a good number of characters in movies are the sort of people who wish to pursue some sort of creative career. In any case, their proportion is considerably exaggerated.

Fact 2: one almost universal lesson/moral in many of these movies is that one should always ” follow your dreams”, even if they seem impractical.

Fact 3: most creative professions are, if anything, over-served (I think there’s a more precise term for this). From a basic econ101 point of view, this should depress wages automatically. Adding to this the fact that many of these professions are just intrinsically less valued by society, at least in terms of how much it is willing to support the average professional, leads to people being paid much less than they would get for a similar amount of work in an alternate, more “conventional” profession.

Fact 4: also consider that many of these professions have very unequal payouts. Charlie Stross had a great post where he showed that the median salary of a writer was a ridiculously low figure by western standards, even though the average is a fair bit (still not that much, though) higher, because a very, very small minority of writers make oodles of money. The same applies to actors, artists, etc. Naturally, the media in general tends to greatly play up the successes and play down the vast hordes who never make it- and no, the starving artist trope is hardly proof against this.

Fact 5: while fact 3 should ordinarily deter those without an “unstoppable” drive from making a career out of these fields, facts 1,2 and 4 considerably alter the situation, mostly by distorting reality- 1 by subtly implying that to be a real character in your own life, you must be some sort of creative person, 2 by suggesting that your life is incomplete if you do not go on to “make the most of your talent”, and 3 by strongly misrepresenting your chances of ever being successful in a material sense by making a career out of what should really stay a hobby. This leads to what is basically mis-informed consent and manufactured preferences, and you know how the rest of this goes.

Proffered conclusion: Hollywood may be ruining your emo teenager’s life.

*As you may have noted, I’m using this phrase in a slightly skewed sense here, not just the literal meaning of the two words strung together. It is not an original usage, so I think I’m safe with it. I think programming is a creative profession, for instance, like much of engineering, but this analysis is far more relevant to the miniature furniture builder or paper sculptor who quits his accounting job than to an engineer.

Tentative Plans for December

The key word being tentative.

“Constructive” Stuff:

Where constructive is defined fairly loosely.

  1. Do my own version of NaNoWriMo, in December*. Wish I could have done it in November with everyone else, but endsems are a pain.
  2. “Prepare” for next semester. Yeah, really. All my courses depend to a very large extent on prior knowledge which I’m supposed to have gained sometime during the last 2 and a half years, but almost certainly haven’t.
  3. Find something to do for the summer. This deserves a bullet point, for reasons that shall be explained later.
  4. This may not really fit, but: get both computers working the way they’re supposed to. Which includes mailing the Dell service center guys and asking them if they can come to Kottayam instead of Chennai to fix the display for the laptop, fixing whatever the reason is for me not being able to play practically any games at all on the laptop, and getting a whole new keyboard,mouse and possibly speaker system for the desktop. All dependent on what my father’s willing to pay for, of course.

*I DO plan to do this, but it’s more of an exercise to see if I CAN still write any longish(and this will be longer by far than anything else I’ve tried) story, rather than actually trying to write The Novel. I have no intention of putting it up for review by anyone else, at least not under my own name, which means not on this blog. I haven’t really decided the plot -which is bad, because as of an hour back this is officially December- but this will almost certainly be SF/F (by which I mean, it’ll be far-future SF, but whether I make it sound scientifically plausible is a whole other question), very likely some sort of a cliche, and almost certainly bad.

Reading List:

Fiction:

Any recommendations? I have a whole bunch of pulpy stuff that I plan to read if there aren’t, but I was hoping for something solid which is still fun. And preferably easily available. Classic SF/Fantasy would be good, because there’s a chance that any reasonably famous book is somewhere within my 4 GB collection, or can be found on the net. Although, looking to expand, so try me anyway.  Meanwhile, will try and finish Snow and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Non-fiction:

  1. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, by John Maynard Keynes. By all indications, something I should be reading at this time. Should be particularly helpful if Tyler does in fact go ahead with the Book Club. Also have Capitalism and Freedom to browse through, however. 🙂
  2. The Road to Reality, by Roger Penrose. I’ve had this for a VERY long time now, and still haven’t got past the first few chapters, partly because it felt a little too much like a textbook. More specifically, because I peeked ahead and read from in between and those chapters feel exactly like a textbook. But since I’m quite determinedly and shamefully jobless, I guess I’ll try harder.
  3. Guns,Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond. Ditto. Although I didn’t really try very hard on this one.

Graphic Novels/Comics:

  1. The Preacher (only because it was there. I have no idea how good it’ll be.)
  2. Marvel 1602
  3. JLA Elseworlds
  4. Batman (specifically, re-read Arkham Asylum, Year One,The Dark Knight Returns, TDK Strikes Again, and the Killing Joke)
  5. The Dreaming*
  6. Fables*
  7. Lucifer*

*Found a great website through a hacked google search that has the entire collectionof all these, plus a lot more. Actual reading will depend on how much I can download. Thankfully, net at home is between 5 and 20 times faster than the connection here, depending on the time of day, so this SHOULD work.

Movies I Downloaded:

Not picked or ranked in any way, just a random assortment of movies that I’d like to see, or see again.

  1. Tortilla Heaven
  2. The Jesus of Montreal
  3. The Breakfast Club
  4. Burn After Reading
  5. Broken English
  6. A Cinderella Story(Yeah, I know. But I NEED something like it sometimes.)
  7. Trainspotting
  8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  9. Love Actually (Hey, it’s SWEET! I need something I can watch when I badly need to get the warm fuzzies. Summer of 2007 I went with “You’ve Got Mail.” Hopefully, this’ll work,too. )
  10. Return of The Jedi 😀
  11. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 😀

Games I’m taking in the faint hope that they’ll work on the desktop back home:

  1. SPORE!!! (Oh, please,please,please work!)
  2. Caesar 4 (Only because I remember Caesar 3, besides being the very first game I ever bought for myself, as the only computer game my father ever liked playing, a long,long time ago… back when I was actually into playing games while others offered helpful comments from the sidelines.)
  3. The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
  4. Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: This, and the next 2, mostly because they actually work on my laptop.
  5. Monopoly -just the board game, nothing special, but good when you just want to waste time.
  6. N! Best flash game ever! Tough, and addictive. Mostly good when your fingers start to itch. Also has the advantage of being something to do when you want to listen to music, but not “just”.

Also have a bunch of TV shows/anime that I don’t really want to bother listing. And I’d like to go somewhere for the hols, even if that doesn’t seem very likely right now, especially alone. Also hope they’ll finally let me take the car out on my own. Wish me luck!

Movie Update

Ghost Rider is the crappiest movie adaptation of a comic book ever made. I had a tiny inkling of that before watching it, but it far surpassed anything I could have imagined. Even Eva Mendez doesn’t help. Not that I’m a big fan of hers anyway, but babes are usually a quick fix for getting bad movies from “unwatchable” to “if you have a thing for crap”, and they couldn’t even pull that off here. I’m not linking to the movie because I don’t think anybody should have to go through the trauma of reading the plot, even accidentally.

On the other hand, I really liked 21 and “Across the Universe“, both starring the young British star Jim Sturgess, who is officially my new favourite actor. 21 is the story of 6 students in MIT who go to Vegas and make big bucks counting cards at the Blackjack tables. Well, almost. I’d say more, but you may as well see the movie, it had a blockbuster release and I believe it’s still in theatres.

Across the Universe was far less widely distributed, but in my opinion it is a superior film. It’s one of the very few musicals in which I looked forward to the songs, all of which are originally by the Beatles. The movie is set in the 60s and deals with a young man from Liverpool who crosses the Atlantic to find his father (he’s illegitimate) and ends up in the middle of the most exciting changes of the past half century: the counterculture movement. The movie deals with the anti war protests, hippies, rock and roll, love and loss, and the draft; it even describes historical events like the Columbia University protests and the bombing. Also, Jim’s co-star in Across the Universe is the ethereally beautiful Evan Rachel Wood, who I thought did a much better job than the more famous Kate Bosworth in 21 and who I would have fallen for were my heart not already pledged to the divine Olivia Wilde.

On the plus side, new high: 1541 views, yesterday!!!

On the more significant minus side, I’ve been informed that the project I’m (supposed to be) doing is almost certainly far too complex for me to handle, especially considering that all the stuff I need to learn to do it are what they’re going to teach me NEXT year.  Also, my mother had made me promise to go back home after the 15th (which I want to do, anyway) so I only have till the 11th or so to get anything done.

PS: Yes, far worse than Daredevil. I LIKED Daredevil. And not just because of Jennifer Garner, either.

PPS: Can somebody please,please,please send me any episodes of House after s04e09? I know I’m addicted, but that doesn’t help the fact that I really want my fix. I’ll pay for any expenses incurred. Well, if you email me/comment first and I agree that it’s not unreasonable, atleast.

PPPS: Pretty please?

I saw Ironman

And while I still can’t believe that Robert Downey Jr. can look so GOOD as a superhero, it was pretty awesome.Honestly, don’t start attacking my “manhood” again, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

He’s never been one of my favourite heroes,though. A little too conservative/militaristic. I know that might be what they call “small-minded”, but at least in the comics he’s pretty much always come off like that. But then, I have problems with a lot of superheroes. Batman’s moral absolutism. (Ironically enough,) everybody else’s wimpiness. Not that I don’t like them, I merely have issues with them as valid or desirable templates for a moral code. Oh, that reminds me: I finished reading Watchmen, and it was one of the best, most twisted, morally ambiguous graphic novels I’ve ever read. Actually, it was the only deliberately morally ambiguous graphic novel I’d read that didn’t seem obvious. Read it. If you’re from the insti, ask me when I get back in August for the ebooks.

Although I might not have it if I have to format my computer or something. My brother screwed up somehow, I can’t even log into windows, and as far as linux is concerned, since I installed hardy(after formatting gutsy, update didn’t work and my other install was bugged anyway) I can’t do anything on it except basic surfing. I’m downloading codecs and stuff so that I can at least watch movies and listen to music. Did you know that even mp3s aren’t supported by default? Crap!