Doodad Kind of Town

Change of Perspective
March 21, 2009, 12:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s been a bit of a rough week here. My recent, nearly healed back injury flared up badly for a few days, and it was back to the muscle relaxers, the ice packs, and the generally gloomy and unproductive state of mind that plagued me throughout most of the winter. So much for the promised flurry of new posts I was going to get busy on this week.

But while I may not have been writing lately, I’ve certainly been reading. And one particular blog entry has been much on my mind today. Over at Cinema Styles, Greg (the blogger formerly known as Jonathan Lapper) put up a thoughtful and heartfelt post entitled A Conscious Effort describing his passion to explore the ways that films and photographs capture and preserve the details of our collective history. If you haven’t read this yet, you should. It’s inspiring.

And reading about Greg’s dedication has me thinking more about my own blogging goals. (As does the recent second anniversary of this blog’s inaugural post.) I would love to be one of those people who come up with a thoughtful, insightful analysis of a film on a daily or almost-daily basis. But I can’t do that right now. For starters, I have a day job which is not conducive to such an endeavor; as an IT project manager in a company which carefully monitors its employees’ internet usage, I simply cannot put up blog posts during work hours. My workload is of the feast-or-famine variety. It’s been more famine than feast lately, which has afforded me some stolen moments to contribute to comments threads throughout the day. But the famine is rapidly coming to an end. Soon I’ll be swamped and lucky even to see a couple of movies a week, let alone write about them.

It’s at this point where you’re probably expecting me to bemoan my meaningless existence as a corporate drone and to rail against an unfulfilling lifestyle that drains my creative juices. You may even be expecting an “Eat, Pray, Love”-style revelation of nights spent crying on the bathroom floor, imploring God to deliver me from the three confining walls of my cubicle.

Well, if you’re looking for that kind of Oprah-esque “aha!”moment, keep moving. There’s nothing to see here. The truth is, I actually LIKE my day job. I like the left-brain challenges of analyzing and solving problems. I like the camaraderie of working with a project team to design and build new and better computer systems. I even flourish under a certain amount of deadline pressure – it stresses me, but it also energizes me. I have no burning desire to give any of this up right now.

And yet, I also love to write. One of my greatest satisfactions in life is to capture what I love or hate about a movie (or a book, a person, a place I’ve travelled to) in my own words, and be able to communicate my enthusiasm or distaste for that experience to someone else. Preferably to a whole lot of someone elses. I want both an audience, and the opportunity for dialogue with other like-minded cinephiles, bookworms and travellers. Someone once said “We read to know that we are not alone.” I also blog to know that I am not alone.

I need both these occupations in my life for the time being. I need both the structure of my job and the creativity-plus-fellowship of my blog. But I think I also need a spark of new inspiration for said blog, and I think that’s going to come from broadening – rather than narrowing- its focus.

Let me explain:

Lately, I’ve seen more movies that I haven’t felt like writing about than ones I’ve been dying to share my views on. Among the “recently viewed but not reviewed”: “The Wrestler,” “Gran Torino,” “Last Chance Harvey,” “The International,” “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” “Ghost Town,” “Revolutionary Road,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Children’s Hour,” and “Dogville.” You’ll notice there are some damn good movies on that list, even a couple on which I’ve lavished considerable praise (or derision) on numerous other people’s comment threads. But somehow, I just can’t be bothered to put my own reviews together. In many cases, it feels like I’d be very hard pressed to add any original insights to the general discussion. What’s left to say about “Grand Torino” or “Revolutionary Road” at this point that hasn’t been said, repeatedly and plenty eloquently, at every other movie blog in cyberspace?

I still love movies, still watch them religiously. But I do other things that I’d like to write about once in awhile. I travel, I go to plays, I read books, I sing in two choirs. I go to an occasional class on Buddhist meditation, but I’ve yet to master the practice of detaching from my thoughts. (When I tell the monk who leads these classes that I find meditation boring and that I’d rather think my thoughts than detach from them, he laughs out loud and compliments me on my honesty His appreciative laughter draws me back to his classes again and again, even when I’m sure I’ll never get the hang of it.) I’d rather write about some of these experiences than be the 14,000th person in the blogosphere to weigh in on “Watchmen.”

So, be warned. I’m going to be veering “off topic” every now and then. Hopefully those of you who’ve been reading me up to this point will be coming along for the ride.


15 Comments so far
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Pat-I hope you feel better soon. Take it easy this weekend and write some posts on books! :)And I’m serious. Like Bill R., I like when bloggers dig into further things on their primarily film related web sites. I don’t read a lot of fiction, so I would really relish reading your thoughts on literature.P.S. “The Blogger Formerly Known as Jonathan”. I love that!!

Comment by Fox

Pat, I completely understand where you’re coming from, and whether you enjoy your day job or not, we still miss your perspective. But I wanted to respond to one point you made:”In many cases, it feels like I’d be very hard pressed to add any original insights to the general discussion. What’s left to say about “Grand Torino” or “Revolutionary Road” at this point that hasn’t been said, repeatedly and plenty eloquently, at every other movie blog in cyberspace?”You know, I get that feeling a lot, and I’ve seen other people make that statement as well. Sometimes I let it get to me, and it can sometimes take me weeks to write a review when it should take hours or days (like…my Watchmen review, for example, which still has yet to be written). I’d like to say that I just don’t have time all the time, but that’s simply not true. What I have to tell myself, though, and what I think others with that thought need to be told is this: yes, there may be thousands of other similar opinions out there, and others that may make what seem like the same points, but your readers come to your site to read what your thoughts on said film are. Consider “your” to be emphasized in that last sentence. You (and I) really have to try to ignore the fact that a film seems to have been written to death and see it as something you’re more or less withholding from your readers.I have no idea how true all of that is, but it’s something that I’d like to believe is true, and it’s something I think of often. After all – we all visit the sites we enjoy and read their reviews because it’s “them,” and it just wouldn’t be the same reading a review from some random person we were unfamiliar with, right?

Comment by Fletch

Sorry to hear your back is playing you up again.Listen to Dr. Fox, rest up and chill out with a good book, or even a crap book, whatever relaxes you the most.I share your desire to branch out from film reviews, I may even veer into another realm at some point in the future, and look forward to your insights and opinions on other aspects of your life.Good luck!

Comment by Ibetolis

Fox, Fletch and lbetolisThanks,all.Fox-I’d like to do some posts on both books and travel from time to time. They’re not so far removed from my love of movies, because alll those passions spring from my overriding fascination with other cultures, learning what makes us different as well as what we share through our common humanity.Fletch-I uderstand your point and it’s well taken. I know that I like to read certain blogs (including yours)because I’m interested to hear what they have to say,regardless of when their reviews go up. However,I’m still feeling the need to ‘mix it up’ once in awhile, to write about something different. I think many people already do that.lbetolis- I look foward to any other ‘realms’ you ‘veer into’ in the future,’though I’ll always love your writing on film. LOL on relaxing with a ‘crap’ book – I certainly have a few of those on hand!

Comment by Pat

Feel better soon, Pat.

Comment by Rick Olson

As a person with back trouble, all I can say is “you poor thing!” There’s nothing worse. I hope our doctor ordered PT; it was the only thing that helped me.I don’t know if I think you or anyone needs to apologize for going “off topic.” It’s your blog and you mention your life outside the black box frequently. It will just seem like an extension of that. I say, adapt or die. When I look back on some of the people I used to converse with online and see how much they haven’t stepped outside the box, I feel relieved to have moved on. Stagnation is terrible.

Comment by Marilyn

Rick and Marilyn-Thanks.Marilyn, I did do PT after the first injury,and it helped a lot. But I seem to have had a mini-relapse. Next stop, chiropractor!

Comment by Pat

I’m actually excited to hear your thoughts on all number of things, Pat, so feel free to let it flow!

Comment by Daniel Getahun

Yeah, Pat, your point about watching great films that still don’t inspire you to write about them hit home for me. That’s happened to me a lot lately, too. I don’t know if it’s that I feel that I’m not equal to the task in some cases, or I’m just lazy, or that I watch so many movies that sometimes I get overwhelmed, or what. But I hear you.At the same time, I feel like I’ve done very little writing about films lately (or books, for that matter), and I want to veer back on course soon. Either way, I’m happy you’re going to be trying new things here, and I look forward to it.

Comment by bill r.

Pat, sorry I’m so late to comment on this. Thank you for the mention and like you and Bill, I watch many great films that I just don’t feel like writing about. Also, it’s harder and harder to write at work so I just end up putting up powder puff posts like my one today to keep the blog going until I have time to sit down and write something. And I hear you on Watchmen. One of the reasons I don’t review new movies is I just don’t want to be one of a million doing the same thing. I want to off an alternative to that.

Comment by Greg

Daniel, Bill -Thanks to you both. At this point, I just hope to get around to writing about something – movies or otherwise. It’s been a busy week.Bill and Greg, I’m glad to know it’s not just me. I see a lot of movies that I like, but I just never feel inspired to post about them. Or I do feel inspired, but get busy with something else, and the inspiration passes before I get a chance to write. Such is the case with “The Great Buck Howard,” which I saw Sunday – I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write since then,and when I finally do (probably tomorrow night), I’ll have forgotten what I wanted to say about it.

Comment by Pat

I sincerely hope you get things sorted out, but especially I wish you feel better. I know of your back issues firsthand. I am very sorry you have had a hard time. The best always.

Comment by Sam Juliano

Hi Pat-Sorry about your back. ACK. Sorry also I was not able to get back to you on EAT PRAY LOVE. My life has not been my own lately. Hooray for you in sharing more of your richness and not just your opinions on movies. Hope your back is doing better and that everything else is going great for you!

Comment by Parisjasmal

Sam – Thanks for the good wishes. I’m feeling much better now. I guess the time has come for me to accept that I’m a member of the “Bad Back Society,” and I’ll have to mindful of my back the rest of my life.Jen – Hey, you’re alive!! I’ve missed you – we have some catching up to do. I didn’t go the lecture, but there is a great interview with Elizabeth Gilbert in the April issue of Elle.

Comment by Pat

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.Joannah

Comment by Karlie

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