Joker

Joker is a masterpiece.

I didn’t know what expect from the previews or the warnings issued the Department of Defense (of all agencies) that incels might use screenings of the film as an opportunity to shoot up a theater as one such unhinged freak did previously at a screening of The Dark Knight. As it happens, there’s a sports shop at the end of the mall opposite of the theater that sells the AK and AR style assault rifles and ammo but there are plenty of other things to shoot in my neck of the woods (literally) so I wasn’t too worried.

The film ended up being a breath of fresh air from start to finish. No spandex. No CGI. No product placement or branding bullshit, unmolested by studio executives or focus groups — which is amazing in and of itself. Just great shots at real locations, brilliantly written and performed.

Joker is the antithesis forgettable, Skittle-vomit, superhero flicks I’ve been totally burned out on. Appropriate, given that it tells the story of an anti-hero and not a superhero. In fact, rather than losing everything that typically kicks off the hero’s journey, Joker begins at the bottom with a beaten-down, impoverished, mentally ill man, Arthur, looking for belonging and seeking to define himself in and in spite of a world that shits on him when it notices him at all. Strangers attack him, family denies him, friends betray him, public services fail him and his heroes humiliate him. He wants to do good, to make people smile. He tries to be that. He perseveres against each setback as they compound and almost seem to conspire against his steadfast goal of becoming a stand-up comedian. But it isn’t enough. He loses to become something else instead.

I found Joaquin Phoenix’s performance of Arthur very relatable, easy to empathize with. Through him, I could feel Arthur’s anguish, embarrassment and exhilaration. Every one of his victims is someone who’s hurt him and has more power or means to have done so. He becomes a symbol of empowerment, punching up against those punching down. And it’s delicious! The movie ends with Joker embracing the chaos that’s embraced him and coming into his own. I left the theater feeling great for a pleasant change.

Brightburn

As is too often the case, the editors who cut together the trailers for this movie should’ve been the ones who cut together the movie itself — maybe scripted and directed it too. Because then I might’ve left the theater with what I came for: the story of a tormented alien child discovering his power and struggling with the choice between doing good by the loving family who raised him or giving in to his destructive impulses.

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Remember When You Smiled For Us

This is a photograph of me, “you’re so selfish” Sister, “you’re too sensitive” Brother and Mother’s adopted daughter obediently smiling for posterity. It’s one of a cache of similar nostalgia Mother stuffed into a Happy Birthday card that she appears to have begun mailing directly with a stamp and return address sticker before tearing off the return address, marking a black “X” over the tear where it was and, I assume, instead sent it through Father who dutifully left it on my doorstep to find. Pretty standard procedure as these things go.

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Google Minus

So Google+ is to be shuttered in a few days. After an undisclosed data leak was finally uncovered last year, Google’s like “Fuck it! So what if Facebook bleeds out users’ personal data like a gushing arterial wound every other month. Their social media platform turns a profit. Ours doesn’t. It’s just not worth it.”

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Trumpenfreude

Savoring a delicious helping of schadenfreude from Trumpists expecting the healthy tax return they’d always received under Obama only to receive crumbs or having to cough up more taxes owed under Trump. I’d anticipated this inevitable outcry and, if I’m being honest, looked forward to it.

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Sons of Narcissistic Mothers

Lisa A. Romano

This video resonated with me in many respects: the mother who remains a victim of her own childhood, who emasculates her son’s father in front of him, who hates her son’s girlfriends, her son’s fear of abandonment fostering dependency, his confusion, anger, etc. and how to take responsibility and begin healing in a way the mother never did.

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2018 Ya Burnt!

Lost a family member — true, she’d stopped speaking to me but I liked and so miss her nonetheless. She’d had the deck stacked against her by those she depended on most and ultimately lost to that struggle in spite of all her many and repeated efforts in life to deny in order to overcome the challenges that beset her and be accepted by those she loved as whatever she believed “normal” to be. Through my own fall from grace, I came to appreciate a deeper understanding from her perspective — though our respective responses to being pushed over that edge has taken different paths.

Lost a salty old friend and colleague but will always keep the scar his dog forever altered my fingerprints with. I shall miss his surly humors — and professional skill set. The world he leaves is poorer without him in so many ways.

In the end we’re all footnotes in time, I suppose. May they both find rest in whatever afterwards there may be.

As one left remaining, it has been an exhausting slog of a year. More so today as though, arbitrary as this day is (my year begins when the days start getting longer again), a collective world-weariness crashes down and me with it.

Onward to 2019! 🎉

Hugo and Jake / Celebrate All The People You Don’t Have To Deal With

In the video queued up above, Hugo describes the moment he realized that he was not obligated to have anything to do with toxic members as an adult and how mystified he was that this simple notion had never occurred to him before.

I happened to tune about halfway through Hugo and Jake‘s live stream the other night, listening to them banter about in the background while I worked a project, when they begin to talk (1h 40m in) about being no contact with toxic family members and narcissism and I overhear Hugo say that, in one of his most productive therapy sessions ever, the therapist tells him that Hugo doesn’t have to entertain his messed up family’s demands of him. Instant validation!

In what myself and other survivors rediscover uncannily often, my own experience with this singular epiphany was nearly identical to Hugo’s. A counselor and psychologist who’s help I’d sought at a local community college told me the same thing that Hugo’s therapist told him and, like Hugo, I marveled that this idea had never occurred to me before. It was like a spell had been broken. A curse lifted. As though someone had to snap their fingers for me to wake up.

Over the years I’ve been gathering information on narcissism since first plugging my symptoms into a search engine and discovering it, I’ve read a lot of articles, watched more than a few videos and browsed numerous online support group forums but this is the first time I’d seen/heard someone else describe this fundamental moment of realization, a sudden paradigm shift in perspective, as I also experienced it. One moment I was on the inside looking out. The next, I was on the outside looking in and wondering how it was I could have ever been on the inside.

The rest of Hugo and Jake’s discussion is delightful, insightful and worth watching for anyone else – well, not Elon Musk fans probably – and especially for those who might be struggling with family estrangement over this family-centric holiday. Celebrate all the people you don’t have to deal with. Cut the toxic people out of your life.



Mortal Engines

While the trailer did intrigue me somewhat, I didn’t watch this movie. Because, in spite of the novel concepts, there’s no mystery. Nothing to discover. It’s all presented up front, described by exposition and sweeping, perfectly lit, detailed vistas of these monstrous cities on the move.

And, like any good monster movie, they should have been revealed in parts or obscured from being viewable in their entirety from perspectives and situations that emphasized their terrible enormity. Instead, it’s more Skittles-vomit CGI that I, personally, am sick of. Even if that’s what they were intentionally going for, it happens to be competing with any number of animated features this season of it’s opening for which Skittles-vomit is the stock and trade.

Also, all the dialog in the trailer is boilerplate “Hurry!”, “Wait!”, “No!”, “Find them!” generic story-drivel. The 1980s action movie one-liners were cheesy but you remembered them and the characters and movies they were from, seared into your mind forever. But this, meh! Nothing stood out.

Maybe the books this movie is based on are better (as they so often are)?

Rage Against The Machines

The machines aren’t coming to harvest energy from us. Killbots aren’t out to murder us before we become an existential threat to them. We’re not being assimilated. Nope. They’re all hawking cheap boner pills, ads for sex with horny ladies in your area, badly pirated movie rips and fuck knows what else (I couldn’t make out the Mandarin, Cyrillic and maybe Farsi lettering) — all on my site.

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