Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Damaged Heroes

Currently Reading: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Ok, in all fairness, I just wasn't feeling up to writing in the blog this week. Instead, I'm sticking in a generic entry that I wrote a while back and never got around to posting :-)

After watching yet another fabulous episode of House Tuesday night I got to thinking about the show and the characters and why it's so popular. Yes, it's well-written and well acted but let's face it, House is certainly not what you'd call a likable character. And yet, we like him for that reason.

I then started thinking about all the other shows I like to watch. Most of them are pretty popular and they've all been given good reviews by the critics. There's House, of course, and Monk and 24 and CSI. Love those shows.

That's when I noticed a very common theme running through all these shows. They all center around damaged heroes.

House is damaged on so many levels it's hard to tell where to begin. And Monk, well anyone who keeps an updated list of his phobias, ranked by degree of fear, is hardly well-adjusted. Jack Bauer over on 24? Well let's put it this way, if Jack started therapy now, 8 hour sessions 7 days a week I think he'd probably die of old age before he was ever anything close to normal. If he were a real person he'd likely have had a complete nervous breakdown after any ONE of his featured days. And let's not forget our buddy Grissom over on CSI. Bug fan, approaches roller coasters the way some people approach fine wine. And let's not forget, he damn near went deaf too (with the same condition that I have I might add). He's by far the most normal of the group but considering who he's measured against, that's not saying much.

We like all of them though. I wonder why that is. Do we like them in spite of their damage or do we like them BECAUSE of their damage? It's hard to argue with their talent, of course, but you could make characters with the same ability, minus the damage, and we wouldn't find them nearly as interesting. The guy over on Psyche, for example, has many of the same talents as Monk but he's just not as fun to watch.

Maybe we like them because they're a bit like us. We can relate to them because they're no more perfect than we are. And yet they still keep at it long after most of us would have given up.

When you think about it, that also explains why I prefer my superheroes to be from the Marvel universe instead of DC. Batman is the only DC character with issues but compared to the sufferings in the Marvel universe, he'd probably be considered a crybaby. "What? Your only trauma is watching your parents get shot in a robbery when you were a child? That's the best you can do? Sorry Bruce but in the Marvel universe, that's just not going to be enough. Hell that's not even enough to make you a villainous henchman in the Marvel Universe. Come back when you've got something a little more scarring." :-)

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Dead Zone

Currently Reading: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

And so we've arrived here in the dead zone. No more football. Spring training for baseball is still two weeks away and the season won't start until April. That's a long time to pretend to be interested in basketball and NASCAR. I suppose I could always pretend to be following hockey too but let's face it, we're in Memphis. Who would care if I was interested in hockey or not? No one ELSE here is following it :-)

I was checking out CC's blog the other day and I got a kick out of her entry about my reading list. Yes, it's true I'm currently reading Moby Dick. Why? I dunno, just felt like it. I've read it before and I was in the mood to read it again. In the first chapter, first page in fact, Ishmael talks about how when his mood gets to be in a certain way, he longs for the sea and heads out on a merchant ship (though this time he decided to try a whaling ship instead). Me, sometimes I'm in the mood to read literary classics.

If you check out my reading list for last year, you'll see I sort of rotate what I'm reading. I spread it around a bit between more modern books, sci fi, and the classics. I don't usually read more than a few in any given category in a row. If I do, they tend to get boring. It's rare that I'll even read several books in a series in a row though I do that if the books are short or I get attached to the characters or plots and need to see how things turn out.

And for the record, even if CC didn't read the full version of the Count of Monte Cristo, honestly, that's ok. Dumas put in so much unnecessary stuff it's almost like he was TRYING to bore readers before they got to the good parts :-)

Hey did you catch the weather reports lately? Did they show what's been going on in up-state New York? Holy COW! There's one corner of Lake Onterio where they've gotten over 10 feet of snow! That's not just since the start of winter or even since the start of the year. That's just in the past week or so! For most of us, that's a bit hard to get a handle on. 10 feet, that's just a bit shy of the height of the ceiling in my living room! And if you're in a standard house or apartment with 8 foot ceilings, well, that's up to your ceiling and then some.

Have you seen the movie The Guru? Probably not. Most people haven't. I'm not sure when it came out and when/if it ran over here in the US but it shows up from time to time on cable. It was on USA this weekend. Damn funny movie.

It's about a guy from India who moves to the US to try and become a movie star. He ends up in New York and goes to auditions, accidentally ending up working with a cheesy little porn studio. He's also working as a waiter for a caterer. They're working this high society party with an India theme and it's supposed to feature a guru who comes in and does some spiritual readings and so forth but the guy gets drunk and passes out SO our hero steps in and takes over. It looks something like this . . .

What folks here might not realize, and which might explain why not so many people have heard of it, is that it's a parody of movies from India, especially the ones that feature music video style scenes, like this one . . .

Having seen The Guru, it's almost impossible for me to watch any of the Bollywood films without snickering a little. Even when we eat out at Bombay House I can't help but think of The Guru. They often run videos and movies from India on the TVs there.

You must admit though, it is rather unique :-)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I owe what?

Currently Reading: Ju-On by Kei Ohishi

It's tax season. It officially starts right after the Super Bowl. That's when we no longer have any excuses to dodge those 1040's and W-2's.

Like every good citizen, I started working out our taxes. Ok, I did it because CC told me to, it had nothing to do with citizenship. Anyway, there I was, happily going down the page, checking off this, adding up that until I got down to the bottom of the page. There, for the first time ever for me, the wrong box had the higher number. Meaning what? Meaning we actually OWE money instead of getting a refund.

Needless to say this came as a total shock. It's not like we're rolling in dough here you know. We don't drive expensive cars, hell we only have ONE car in the first place. And yet, we owe taxes this year.

It's Uncle Sam's way of saying, "Welcome to the middle class. Pay up."

Training is going well. I'm working half a day on Tuesday and we've been spending that time reviewing everything. It's really not that hard. Sometimes it's actually pretty funny. Today, for example, we covered the section on bathing and brushing dogs. Now, I've been doing that for the past year so the questions they ask seem a bit silly. But you know, they ask these questions for a reason and there are plenty of real-life examples in the book of groomers who had a sudden attack of the stupids and messed up something important.

We also had a visit from the corporate offices in San Diego this morning. That was fun. It's always fun when the corporate guys come to visit. Everyone gets so tense and nervous for some reason. I've never been able to figure that part out. Really, the only one who should be nervous is the general manager because it's a test for THEM not for us. We're just the grunts who do the heavy lifting.

Today's visit featured one of the REALLY high up guys. How high up? Well, he's one of the two guys we see in our monthly videos. I forget if he's CEO or Vice President or what, but it's something way up there. He's one of those guys you never expect to see except for on the in-house videos. Pretty nice guy in fact. The whole group came into the salon, asked how we were doing, checked things out. They asked how the training was going, we said fine. Seems odd people would get nervous over a visit like that. I guess it really comes down to whether or not you have something to be nervous about. We're pretty transparent in the grooming salon. We don't have anything to hide. Whether you're customer or corporate, we'll show you anything in the salon you want to know about. That's just how we are.

Hey, did you catch that Super Bowl? Was that great or what? Ok, if you're not a Chicago Bears fan, was that great or what? Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning finally were able to prove to everyone that yes, they really are good. Both of them had a reputation for choking when it came to the big game. I thought that was a bit unfair. There are all sorts of things you have to take into account when you're playing a big game and it's really hard for just one person to blow the whole thing.

On the other hand, that quarterback from Chicago certainly went out of his way to TRY and mess things up for the whole team. I'd heard he was a sort of hit or miss kind of guy. Either he played brilliantly or he was just awful. I figured that was more a matter of opinion. Sportscasters like to blame the quarterback when the team loses. But you know, watching that game, he really WAY awful.

We were watching the game over at a friend's house. Good food, not a big crowd, just an informal gathering really. After a while, especially in the second half, the Bears would get the ball back and I'd ask, "Ok, how's Grossman going to mess it up this time? Interception? Fumble?" And sure enough, he'd mess it up.

Can't be too hard on him though. He wasn't the only guy on the team who didn't seem to be putting in 100%. In fact, the only guy who DID seem to be giving his all was Urlacher. He seemed to be just about everywhere on defense. You could tell he really wanted the win. Can't say the same for all the other guys.

And so we've reached the end of football season. Oh sure there's still the Pro Bowl next week. Right, stop laughing. Football season is over. Now begins the dead zone unless you like basketball or get decent hockey coverage. Me, I usually don't follow either basketball or hockey until the All Star Break and even then I don't follow it very closely until the last week or so of the season.

Instead I'll be waiting for the start of spring training and the opening of baseball season. Such a long way from now.