Just a bit on Joy…and Boy

You know, at 52, and as a teacher of HS-aged students, I look back at my own HS years sometimes with sanguine eyes, and others with embarrassment. No one is, in their aging, any different. Our history is always a story in revision. And sometimes, sometimes that revision is one where we have to forgive ourselves for the quick and ignorant judgments of youth.

To whit…As a teenager, I had had just about enough of Boy George and Culture Club after about one week. I found the entire experience cloying. But this “naked/acoustic” version of Boy singing a different rendition of “Karma Chameleon”…well, I find that he and the song have aged well, like a wine that, at first, was too sweet, too upfront, but which, with time, has mellowed.

Comparing Boy’s look now to the image of him as a young adult in the 80s…It’s beautifully comforting to recognize our capacity for change, and yet also recognize that we retain so much of who we were. It is just differently placed. For example, the smile he flashes as he moves into the chorus and elsewhere. It’s a sublime expression of being in two places at once: Here (now) and there (past).

Sure, I know this is perception. That I, too, have changed. I know that the song is still pure pop candy. But, and perhaps this is why I teach, the recognition of joy on his face as he moves through the song…? Is there any expression in the realm of human experience more holy than joy? That flash in the eyes, the pull of the smile, in which we recognize someone is so “in their element” that action is fluid and emanates from a wellspring deeper and more mysterious than we will ever know.

Blade Runner 2049: What to Watch Beforehand

Blade Runner

I just (finally) watched Blade Runner 2049. In the fall of 2017 I watched one of the “prequel” shorts that helped fill in the blanks between 2019 (setting for the original) and 2049.That’s here: https://motherboard.vice.com/…/the-blade-runner-2049-anime-… It addresses the key plot event of a massive blackout that sent the world into economic turmoil.

Image result for blade runner 2022 blackoutWhat I didn’t know until last night was that there are two other prequels, live-action shorts that develop two characters, Jared Leto’s Niandir Wallace, and the Nexus 8 Replicant Sapper, who we meet in the beginnning of BR2049. Here’s a link to those: https://motherboard.vice.com/…/heres-what-you-need-to-watch…

Image result for blade runner 2036 nexus dawn

Anyway, if you’re a fan of the original and haven’t seen the new one, it’s fantastic, picks up on a lot of the motifs from Ridley Scott’s original cinematic vision, and continues to ask the (now even more pertinent) questions of “what does it mean to be human” and “what pieces are integral to the creation the ‘self’?” (Turns out one answer to the latter question is related to storytelling and narrative…which reminds me of this quotation I have had hanging in my classroom for years: “The world is a story we tell ourselves about the world.” Indian Novelist, Vikram Chandra.” )

Restoration Hardware in my Pottery Barn: update 2016

I’m sorry.  Really.  It’s not that I want to do this.  However, I’m about to recycle a blog post I wrote on an old iteration of this blog over at blogspot.com.  I wrote the post in 2007, just prior to the great recession.  The opulence and sheer size of the pieces manufactured by Restoration Hardware, even then, seemed offensive.  Post-2008 and the economic situation of the past 8 years–they’re downright ignorant.

Of course this is just my opinion.  I’m not begrudging anyone their access to Restoration Hardware’s “Kensington Collection” or any other collection named after the landed gentry.  I’d just like to know who put me on the mailing list.  This furniture would so overwhelm the rooms of my small-roomed duplex as to cause us to have to swim through and across it in order to traverse the rooms.  That is, if it could even get through my front door.

Restoration Hardware in my Pottery Barn

Ladies, I know this will come as no surprise to you, but gentlemen, make no mistake…Size does matter. Regardless of what you’ve heard, it’s quite obvious that if you are a true American, you must aspire to have really big furniture. I mean overstuffed, bloated, sofas…
Immense dressers…

And dining room tables capable of hosting an entire Viking raiding party…

I don’t mean to suggest that there’s anything wrong with this. Oh, I could try to connect the dots. You know…Mass mailings of catalogs from companies like those mentioned in this post’s title create a desire for the opulence and splendor of “The Wellington” or “The Turner” collection to fill bedrooms or dining rooms and thus people buy huge homes outside their means in order to accommodate the huge size of this furniture using tricky lending packages they really don’t understand and which eventually end in foreclosure creating a crisis of national proportion.No, I won’t blame that crisis on companies like those named above. Furniture doesn’t drive home sales, obviously. However, the standard of living suggested in the catalogs published by these companies is certainly not middle class, and yet, well…that’s what really gets me. I mean, how did I end up on their mailing list? One would think that with all the access to information we have these days, companies would better target their mailing of glossy, clearly expensive catalogs by accessing home sales records and mailing only to those homes of 3000 square feet or more. And yet, here I sit with over 30 catalogs a year from no less than five different companies all of whom manufacture furniture so large it wouldn’t even fit through my front door.

Of course, the size of the furniture isn’t the only thing disproportionate about these pieces. Take a look at their prices???!! $179 for a measly nightstand? Did I miss something here? I mean, these are mass-produced pieces of furniture, right?? And if it’s really big, it’s probably “Assemble it yourself” quality.

Or maybe I’m just looking at this the wrong way. Maybe the furniture isn’t bloated, immense, or obese. Maybe it’s comfy, homey, roomy, enveloping, ample…like a bosom. That’d make sense. Most of us would like to nestle our heads back there again. Maybe if they sold it to me that way I’d like it better. Instead of naming their furniture lines after the blue-blooded, landed gentry who traipsed the English heather a century or so ago, why not anthropomorphize it?

Look at this:

Now, that’s comfy looking, homey. Why not say this sofa is from the “Buxom Chest” collection and comes only in “creamy milkmaid”? That seems reasonable and certainly helps me understand why I’d buy this sofa more than “The Charleston Collection.”

Or what about this one:

In a nod to Monty Python, I’d say this couch is from the “Huge Tracts of Land” collection and comes in a beautiful “Bloody Lipstick.” Again, at least I can see that, and laugh at it as I max out my credit card.

Or it’s just me, right? It’s my problem. I’m just a miserable old curmudgeon. (Is that redundant? Doubly so?) Sure, I could be envious of those who have “Huge Tracts of Land” and “Buxom Chests”, but I truly think there’s something more here. It’s an entire American obsession with size. In our bodies, we want to be thin, trim, fit, but our appetites deny us this. The land of plenty is too much for us. We succumb to its cornucopias. Plates of food large enough for two people and then some. Cars the size of small busses. Movie theaters large enough to hold 24 screens (though said screens are barely bigger than a large screen TV). Acres of parking lots at malls the size of small townships. We have it all. But think about it. What do we do? We complain about it. “It’s too crowded.” “The food is bland.” “The blindspot is too big.” Or my favorite, spoken by an employee at a local Movie-emporium, “I hate working here.”

I guess what I’d like to suggest is the tired epiphany that, bigger isn’t better. (This post, big as it is, is an excellent example of that truism.) It doesn’t make us any happier, more satisfied, or better fed. Although, sitting here in my small sofa with my wife’s feet contending for space with this laptop…I guess a bigger sofa would make things a bit more comfy.