Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Snapshot

The afternoon temperatures attempt to make it to the freezing mark. Compared to the last few days, it feels warm outside. I have just returned from a visit with a friend. She has severe endometriosis; a full hysterectomy will be required. She is a single Mom with 2 kids. I ask her when the surgery is scheduled. I will certainly be taking her for the surgery and waiting with her children; she doesn't have anyone else here, after all. Her family is in another country. I don't mind doing what's needed for her; I just hope that the surgery will solve her issues.

I arrive at home, and find my cat snoring away on the sofa. I mutter to myself, "the cat is asleep". He suddenly pops his eyes open and gives an inquisitive meow, looking at me as if he's heard, as if to say, "Nope, I'm awake!" I have re-stocked the wine rack. I never buy wine that is more than 10 dollars a bottle. If this sounds very plebian, I assure you that I've bought expensive wines before, and most of them taste like shoe polish. At best, they are no better taste-wise than some of the cheaper wines I've purchased. I do prefer French wine, Bordeauxs more than Merdocs. Italian reds are delicious but give me terrible headaches. American reds are my second favorite, particularly cabs. recently did a list of the biggest bullshit jobs out there--wine taster was one of them. They pointed to a test, where wine tasters were asked to taste what was actually the same cheap wine, but one had the regular label, and one had the label of a much more expensive vintage. They all rated the "expensive" wine much higher than the "cheaper" wine. Someone told me once that you had to put a higher price tag on things for Americans, or they wouldn't think it had any value. This is certainly evidence in favor of that notion.

I went to put on some John Foxx CDs today, and found I couldn't listen to them. Not because there's anything wrong with them, but because I've realized that there have been no John Foxx events for almost 2 months. I really can't afford for John to have an event before April, truth be told. But it makes me discontent, because hearing the music reminds me of the person, and then I want to see the person...well, in person. John has often spoken about the "ghosts" created by hearing a song on the radio, or seeing a person on TV, or YouTube, or whatever. For me, it's less of a ghost than it is a pointer--just like religious symbolism is not the actually reality, but points you to something greater, so music is the same way for me. Hearing a particular song can remind me of a time, a place, a conversation, a person--even just a feeling of happiness, or sadness, or loneliness, or discomfort. Some songs remind me of particular years in my life, even if they were not recorded in that year. Evoking the feeling when all it will do is create discontent is problematic for me. I'm a deeply emotional person, and need to be in the right frame of mind. So, I distract myself with other things, and save those CDs for a different time.

Last week I had dinner and drinks with a friend I hadn't spoken to in a long time. We talked about the different interpretations of Aleister Crowley. It's almost a universal thing that people with a "Satanic" opinion of Crowley have never read any of his works. However, that does need to be taken back a bit--some of Crowley's works DO imply a black magic, or seem to condone that practice. Crowley never really condoned black magic; he assumed his readership would be able to see the meaning beyond his words, to understand that it shouldn't be taken at face value. Why else would he go to court and sue someone for slander for referring to him as a "black magician"? (A bid he lost, by the way, because he tended to refer to himself as the "Great Beast 666". While he was referring to the overthrow of the tyranny of Christian institutions of that time, it's hard to blame anyone for making that deduction).

The conversation got me thinking about something I term "literary matrixing", though it's probably not so original or special. It refers to the notion that we take out of texts the things that we want and discard the rest. "Matrixing" as a psychological phenomenon involves the mind organizing imperfections on a surface into an image--pareidolia (seeing the face of Jesus or Mary in various objects) is an example of matrixing. If words are symbols for ideas, why can't the phenomenon occur with those as well? I say that it is not special, however, because everything we read, every object we view, is interpreted in terms of our own experiences. It's not a new idea.

(Why does rigati take longer to cook than ziti? Do those ridges in the pasta really take that much longer to cook?)

I have been reading a lot of M.R. James lately. I have one book of his short stories, and then found another for a couple of dollars at a used bookstore I like to visit. The owner of the store looked at the book when I bought it. "M.R. James! Do you get nightmares from reading this stuff before bedtime? I know I do." I told him no, but now I'm not sure. James writes about demonic creatures that are often awakened by opening certain books, or renovating churches, or what have you. I dreamt last night that such a creature fell out of the ceiling and into my room. I was looking for the most expedient way to kill it. So, maybe it does give me nightmares. But I like James--he was a librarian, and knew a lot about my favorite occupation, cataloguing. Cataloguers often figure into his stories. He's also a medievalist, well-versed in Latin, and an obvious expert on Church architecture. All that in a ghost story. What's not to like?

Speaking of ghosts...I was looking at a photo on a Twitter feed, and one of the comments referred to former Ghost Hunters team member Donna LaCroix. I'd talked about that team in a previous post, so I don't want to repeat myself too much. But there were two articles about Donna, who is no longer on any Ghost Hunters show. She apparently was on a radio talk show with two investigators who call themselves the "Ghost Divas". On the show, she proceeded to rip apart the Ghost Hunters operation, claimed there was some fakery, and blasted the production company. She said that she, Andy Andrews, and Brian Harnois got crappy contracts with the spin-off show Ghost Hunters International, and that all three of them had gotten screwed. She then retracted a large amount of it in a second statement. You can read the first post here and the second post here.

First of all, from what I know from seeing posts elsewhere from Donna, this doesn't surprise me at all. I'm sorry that she's made out so badly from all of this, but two things occur to me. One is that of COURSE Ghost Hunters has faked things. Do I really believe that the scenarios of Jason and Grant at their day jobs, or someone walking into the TAPS office to talk to Donna aren't re-enacted and scripted? Of course not. And I've complained about the overly-slick production in recent shows. I would hope that the evidence caught is not faked, even if it's hyped to a certain degree. She does not claim the evidence is faked. There is going to be a certain amount of hype, but that doesn't discount all findings on the show. The other thing that occurs to me is that Donna and Andy in particular were not stellar additions to the team. Yes, Andy is a great debunker, but he didn't really have the personality for TV. Donna was a great case manager, but I'm sorry, she's just not a good investigator. Maybe on private investigations she's better, but on TV, she tended to make me roll my eyes. I can't say much about Brian--I think he provided great entertainment value--but certainly he and Jason didn't see eye to eye, ultimately. And if they don't get along, maybe he should work with another team. He's not a bad investigator. In short, though--the production company and the network will make the decisions that they feel will make them the most money. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad, sometimes it's outright unfair. But it's nothing new. And I agree with the blogger who reported the stories--Brian, Donna, and Andy apparently had a crappy entertainment lawyer. Again, that's too bad, but it's not anyone else's problem. I've had bad lawyers too--and I've learned to read over my own contracts and do as much as I can myself. Hopefully they've learned that, too.

I receive an e-mail from a friend about my 20-year high school reunion. I have to RSVP by tomorrow if I intend to go. It wouldn't be such a big deal, but I'm balking at the $95 per ticket price tag. Yes, I know it's not cheap to have these things, but is it worth it to pay $95? For one thing, I wasn't all that close with anyone in high school. The friends that I did have I already keep in touch with. Other friends from high school aren't in my graduating class. Basically, it would be a hundred-dollar exercise in curiosity, nothing else. Many of my classmates are married with kids, and while that's great for them, I find the married-with-kids lifestyle hard to get excited about. I'm not so excited by people's photos of little junior. Similarly, they may not be able to relate to my lifestyle. So, I might be setting myself up for an evening of awkward conversations. Something I'd be more inclined to do if it cost less. In any case, I need to get off the fence by tomorrow.

Tomorrow! February 1! Where does the time go?...

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