too much of a good thing?

Folks, it’s been a long post-free week, hasn’t it? I can blame a busy sched (started classes, meetings all week, considering a big TBA purchase in my future…), but i can also blame…TMI.

That’s right, Too Much Information.
No, I don’t mean the awkward over-sharing, unasked-for personal detail kid. I mean just that:

Information. There’s TOO MUCH.

Just this weekend, thanks to Daily Show and Colbert reruns, I added two books to my list:
Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche: interesting take on mental illness and different meanings of “normal” all over the world. Author proposes that drug companies and a med-heavy attitude in the U.S. have influenced other cultures who view mental health in totally different ways (relying on community, spirituality, holistic health, etc.).
Fascinating. I am an advocate for medical treatments for mental health–but i also believe they aren’t the only answer. I wonder how much my culture, and drug companies, have influenced my attitudes…

Secrets of Mental Math: This author on Colbert was cracking me up. Stereotypical math geek… (he does math AND magic tricks!) Colbert would shout out numbers and he could answer instantly. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get around to reading this one, but watching this guy made me realize something about math…it really can make you happy. Think about it: do you ever see a math geek who’s unhappy? (I’m sure there are some, but I can’t imagine too many mathematicians grumbling, “I hate my job…”) There’s something about the, well, magic of it. Working with numbers opens up this whole other world, a world that much of the world misses out on much of the time.
That’s got to be a pretty cool feeling.

THEN Oprah talked to Jason Reitman about Up In The Air, and even featured some of the “actors” who portrayed the people George Clooney spoke to during the “you’re fired” montage. Turns out these are actual non-actor people who had lost their jobs this year. Reitman let the cameras roll as these people replayed their experience. Unscripted. Real emotion. Unbelievable.
Such a great movie, too. Got to see it in St. Louis with good friends. At the Moolah, an old Shrine Mosque-turned movie theater with great character and comfy couches. This movie surprised me. Really good storytelling (I read somewhere that it’s like a return to old-fashioned moviemaking. The simplicity [and complexity] of the story of one man.) and really good food-for-thought: how connection with people adds to a life (makes a life).

But see? There it is again, TMI: “I read somewhere…” It’s hard to keep track of all the information i absorb in a given week.

I love the sharability of 2010.
like hieroglyphics, print, telegraph, telephone, television before it–the internet lets us says “this is meaningful (or funny or interesting or special or scary or neat-o). and i want to share it.”
Share it with YOU and with the future.

BUT is there a point where i have to say STOP? i can’t take any more new ideas for right now.
What am i willing to give up for the sake of my own productivity (sanity)? This seems to be an idea I keep coming back to, huh? The limited amount of ME to go around and the unlimited amount of things out there to learn.
It’s a choice. I can’t keep being a passive absorber of information and expect to glean any quality from it. I have to learn to Just Say No to TMI.
(ha. this sounds like a disorder just waiting for some pharmaceutical intervention, doesn’t it?)

The Room

in 2009 i saw some great movies:
(such a great year for animation alone! Coraline, UP, Cloudy…Meatballs, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Princess & the Frog)
i also saw some bad movies:
(Watchmen, The Proposal, Taking of Pelham 123)

but rare is the day a movie comes along that’s so bad it’s good. ladies and gentlemen, i give you THE ROOM.

The Room poster

"Are you ready to see reflection of your life?"

The moxie had been showing this cult “hit” (cult bomb?) since the summer, but last Saturday at 10:00 (their last showing) was the first time I had the chance to partake. If you haven’t heard about The Room, just google and you’ll find a whole little community celebrating its badness, and it’s been around for years.

There’s a kind of Rocky-Horror-ness to this; the experience of watching the movie is more important than the movie itself. Please don’t get the DVD and watch it by yourself. Please DO get the DVD and watch it with some friends (or find a way to go to a screening). The fun of this movie is the making fun of this movie.

I haven’t had this much fun in a theater in a while. It’s liberating to laugh with abandon and point out inconsistencies, to recognize all those things that might just make you uncomfortable in any other poorly-made film—and enjoy them instead.

There’s some speculation online over whether or not this is a satire, intentionally bad, etc. (If it is, then we have the most talented actors on the planet here, able to pull off bad acting so sincerely…) You have to wonder what it’s like for Tommy Wiseau to know this movie he made is famous for its badness. Worshipped for its badness.
Is it better to have become a star for The Room than never to have become a star at all?

The poster alone shows you’ve got something special here…folks, you have no idea.

and (why) is it good for (me)?

After I posted about The Things They Carried, I felt like I wasn’t fully expressing what I wanted to say…
shoot, i majored in this stuff, right? it seems like i should be able to better articulate how I really like his writing, without just repeating, “seriously, it’s good…”

Also thinking about my original intent for this blog, and how i want to explore BOTH how what we read informs our lives, and how our lives inform what we read.

Because there’s a difference.
I’m curious: what is it about this particular moment in my life that makes me open to this book?
I scanned the book selection at sam’s, and might have been drawn to any number of them, but with this one there was no question. I saw it, and then it was in my cart. No hesitation.

I know my trip to Vietnam in 08 plays a big part. It’s the same reason I read (and really liked) The Quiet American–another war novel (a different war) with male protagonists. Not necessarily my style, but really good for me to read.

Then once I started reading it, I also wonder: what about this book is just for this particular moment in my life?
It’s informing my thoughts about the process of writing nonfiction.
It’s helping me learn about something new and expanding my scope of interest.
These are good things for me right now.

The question: why? (why read it. why learn this. why watch that.) is something worth considering in the choices we all make for how we spend our time.
(after all, as my numbers-minded friend Amanda is quick to point out, if we read one book a week [and that's an impressive estimate] we only have 2800ish books to go if we live until 80…)

True, that’s a lot of books. But it’s also a finite number. It ends.
Like life.
sheesh. heavy.
It’s the truth, son. Reading war books makes you tough.