Sunday, August 15, 2010

God, Science and Narcissism

Here's an actual conversation I've had with a co-worker.

--- So do you believe that possums are lucky?
--- No. What? No. Wait, what?
--- Y'know, possums. Do you think they're lucky? Because I saw a possum – the same possum, I think – in my yard three different times and my Chinese mailman tells me that possums are lucky.
--- I believe possums are gross and carry disease.
--- Well what animals do you believe are lucky?
--- Uh... none of them, I guess.
--- You... DON'T believe in Power Animals?

No, because that's ludicrous. I don't believe in ghosts or curses or luck or leprechauns or any of that dumb stuff. That's dumb stuff. For dummies. You idiots. Sheesh. I do, however, believe in God. Despite doing everything that people do that lead to atheism – being raised Catholic, majoring in physics, going to a state school in Massachusetts, I was even an altar boy for eight years in the molestiest area of Christendom – I'm still a believer. I'm no longer Catholic.

I'm terrible at meeting new people. My wife's solution is for me to start going to church. There are people at church, and we already have something in common. That'll serve as a nice starting point. Right? Yeah! I guess. Not really. No. Not even a little. I don't really like talking about my faith with other people. It's distasteful. It lies somewhere between “how much do you make?” at the dinner table and a dick-measuring contest at a funeral.

Sharing a common faith also seems like it's not exactly fertile ground for conversation, either.

--- So uh, how 'bout that Christ, huh?
--- Yeah. How cool was he?
--- Right!? Dying for our sins! Just for us!
--- I know! What a mensch!

*****

I resent being lumped in with other believers. I'm not one of those weirdos who things the Earth is only 5,000 years old and the Jews buried dinosaur bones in 1922. I think gay marriage should be legalized. I abhor the idea of prayer in schools. I hate – HATE – the Boy Scouts. I refuse to vote for somebody if their platform has anything to do with God.

I hate the constant shoving match between Religion and Science. Nothing gets my blood boiling quite like Kirk Cameron and company talking about bananas and how they're proof of God's endless love because they're the perfect food for humans. Aaaaaagh. The bananas we eat are engineered in a Godless laboratory by scientists. And they're delicious!

[Sidenote regarding engineered food: I love naturally engineered food. If you can plant a tree that naturally yields lemons and limes, I'm all for it. Although it'll be tough to figure out what's a lime and what's an unripe lemon. Or the other way around, I forget. It's the scary, creepy Monsanto genetic engineering that bothers me. It's evil and it's icky. My wife's mom's husband (you figure out the relation to me, I don't care to) once suggested I could move to Fresno and work for Monsanto. His heart was in the right place, I guess. I'm still not sure if I'm more repulsed by the idea of working for Monsanto or living in a city whose only major attraction is a bunch of underground trees. Which, to be fair, has a lot of naturally engineered miracles of science. There's a tree that bears like, six different kinds of fruit. Maybe there you've got a crossroads of God and Science. Kirk Cameron ought to look into that.]

*****

What it really comes down to, the more I think about it, is narcissism. What kind of narcissist are you? Are you the kind of narcissist who believes that there is a Benevolent Creator who watches over YOU and cares about YOU and every stupid thing that YOU do? Are you the kind of narcissist who believes that YOU are able to say with absolute certainty that YOU are able to say that there's nothing?

Truly, scientifically, intellectually, the place to start is agnosticism. I started off as an agnostic, then started leaning towards believing, then I became a believer. [Note: I was always a narcissist.] I'm not sure how or when or why. A lot of it came from my love of science. The massive, expansive universe. The same cold, unloving, randomness that most atheists say is the absence of God is the reason for my faith.

There was a discussion a couple of years ago with theoretical physicist Brian Greene. His belief is that, given an infinite universe, using a finite number of unique atoms, there must be an infinite number of exact duplicates of everything. There are an infinite number of Josh Grimmers out there, and an infinite number of Brian Greenes, and an infinite number of everythings and everyones and all kinds of stuff. It's like a cosmic version of the monkeys and typewriters theory. In this talk, he allows for the possibility of something, somewhere, being able to create and control its own miniature infinite universe. (Fucking noodle on that phrase. Miniature infinite universe. Amazing.) He acknowledges the fact that we – our universe – may be controlled by such an entity. This, more than anything, affirmed my faith. Not bananas. Hard (theoretical) science. Maybe I'm tailoring the facts to fit my beliefs. That's what everyone does. We're all narcissists here, we're on the Internet.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A real imaginary conversation with an imaginary real person.

The Internet, as we all know, is now little more than porn, email and social networking. Well, guess what – those are the only three things I used it for anyhow. Recently Prince declared the Internet dead. Over. Passe. Yesterday's news. Old hat. Six boats – whatever your preferred expression might be. I disagree, if for no other reason than Twitter. Twitter has given me so much over the past few months. Firstly, foremostly, and mostly importantly, Twitter has given me htwoshop.

Three or four months ago, htwoshop started following me. I'm not sure where he came from. I mean, Japan. He came from Japan, and he's probably still there. I'm just not wholly sure how he came to find me. He speaks – at best – horribly broken English. Maybe he's just reading my posts in order to work on his English? He's always tweeting about language. Anyhow – here's what's important: I love htwoshop, and I'm pretty sure he loves me, too. Whenever I'm sad, I like to read his tweets. They keep me sane and grounded.

---

@htwoshop Good morning! My name is htwoshop!,,How are you?

@JoshGrimmer Not great, htwoshop. Not great. I just feel... I dunno – empty. You know how sometimes you're eating something super hot and you burn your tongue, and for the next few days you have trouble tasting things? I've had that feeling for a few weeks now, off and on. I know I should be happy – things are going well. I'm just feeling sort of dead, you know?

@htwoshop Rebarezzi is teko~~! On fx! I want to bictoriy.Becouse happy?

@JoshGrimmer Exactly! Happy. I want to be happy. Speaking of “Rebarezzi is teko~~!,” FX has some pretty solid shows right now. Big fan of “Damages” and “It's Always Sunny,” and “Louie” is really coming into its own. *sigh* I don't even really feel like I have time for TV anymore, htwoshop. If I don't have to go to work, I seldom get out of bed before noon, and if I do it's only to eat or go to the bathroom. I just feel like I've hit my nadir, man. I'm about 90 percent miserable.

@htwoshop 10pa-sent! no no no.

@JoshGrimmer I suppose you could look at it that way. I'm 10 percent happy. You've got a point. I think maybe I should write more – writing usually makes me pretty happy.

@htwoshop Today blog title is 「every day 芋」

@JoshGrimmer Every day seems like a bit much. Maybe a couple times a week?

@htwoshop End result is 30 pa-sent plus!!

@JoshGrimmer Exactly! I'd be well on my way at that point.

@htwoshop Net cafe now! I am hangry.But but but sleepy~~~&buzy!...

@JoshGrimmer Well, I won't keep you, htwoshop. Thanks for being so friendly.

@htwoshop Tomorrow is mode change! dedede~~.But no change's good action! ok?

@JoshGrimmer Right! Starting tomorrow, I'll write more. Hey, htwoshop? Uh, I don't know how to say this, but... Uh... I love you.

@htwoshop..........なう。and I love you 弾き終わった

Monday, August 2, 2010

You'd think I'd love a play about hanging yourself to get an erection. Hm.

I feel like I should begin by saying that I love my wife. I love my wife, she's a great actress, and she's not the problem here.

I spent my Saturday night watching the worst play I've ever seen in my entire life. Ever, ever, bar none.

My wife is the type of person who acts. This is fine. I mean, without actors, movies would be, you know, boring and stuff. And I mean, who'd be on TV? I guess there'd still be sports and stuff, but I need my Two Point Five Men (I believe that is the name of the show.) My wife is a pretty good actor. I feel like the more I say it, the less true it sounds, but she really is great.

My wife is so good at acting, she was just in two plays at once. Both at the same theatre, and with the same director. Good for her, right? She likes acting, and she gets to act. A lot. She also doesn't have to see her husband, which is a nice little side effect. It was nice for me, too. Not having my wife around really gave me a lot of time to sit down at the computer and get writing, you know? Just be really fucking prolific. Wait, what? I've only written two things in the past couple months? What the fuck have I been doing then? Oh, right. Work and Twitter. Well, you know, those 140 characters add up.

Anyhow, back to the play. Waiting for Godot. For weeks and weeks, my wife would come home from rehearsal and shout something along the lines of “I HATE MY DIRECTOR AND THE OTHER ACTORS ARE TERRIBLE AND THIS PLAY IS FUCKING AAAAGRHARHARHRHGH.” Pretty much every night. She would eventually regain her composure and ask me when I was planning on coming to see the play. The answer is never.

Some fun facts about this particular production of Waiting for Godot.

--- Waiting for Godot was written for a cast of five men. Apparently Samuel Beckett so loathed the idea of women being cast in this play that he attempted to make it illegal to do so. Since my wife is a woman, it can be safely assumed that he failed in this particular legal endeavor. This did not, however, stop the Beckett Estate from contacting the director and trying to put a stop to the production. Didn't work. Too bad. According to my wife, there was one night where only two people showed up. Apparently the director and Vladimir (using character names because I don't know anybody's real name) decided that somehow the Beckett people went around and started a whisper campaign against this particular production, scaring crowds away. Or, it got no publicity and sucked. Either way.

--- The young lady who played Pozzo is a vegetarian. There's a pretty important part in Act One where Pozzo eats some chicken and Estragon eats the bones. After days of jerking the cast around, deciding whether or not she could even do the play at all, Pozzo finally found out that she'd have to eat chicken. She flipped out and almost quit the play. Now, I was a vegetarian for eight years. I totally get where she's coming from. She doesn't want to even handle the meat or the bones or whatever. I'm back to eating meat, but I still don't like handling meat or bones or whatever. I'm not going to crucify her for having convictions. She's still an idiot for not reading the play before auditioning. Or, you know, being familiar with a famous play. More on Pozzo later.

--- I have a feeling nobody went to the show because of the flier. The image they use is atrocious:
Photobucket

It looks like an ad for the discount Pink Floyd laser light show over at the Hollywood Laserium Cybertheater. The other major problem I have with the flier is the horrible selection of quotes. “The greatest play of the 20th Century ignites the 21th!!!” and “A mind-expanding experience!” Sorry guys, but Inception was easily the most mind-expanding experience of the Twenty-Oneth Century.

I really, really didn't want to go see this play. At least my wife knew it. My only hope was to work every Friday and Saturday night for five straight weeks, that way I'd have an excuse. Things were cruising along nicely until Saturday night. I had the night off, and it was closing night for the play. I couldn't not go. My wife gave me directions from work to the theatre, and even pre-bought me a ticket. No escape.

By the time I got to the theatre, I was exhausted. Waking up at 6am, working nearly nine hours at the Dream Factory, never, ever sleeping – all of these things add up to a very tired Josh Grimmer. By the time I made it into the theatre, found my seat and began to wait for the play to start, I had fallen asleep. My hope was I'd be the only person to show up, and they'd cancel. Sadly not the case. I was startled awake by the director, Ross, making the pre-show announcement. He comes out, tells everyone they're there to see Waiting for Godot. Good start. Then he tells everyone where the bathroom is. It's behind the stage, and to the left. More on the bathroom – and Pozzo – later. Instead of telling everyone to hold their pee until intermission, he said “If you need to go during the show, that means you'll have to walk through the stage! Maybe our actors will interact with you! The magic of theatre in Los Angeles!” This, apparently, was not what he was told to say. Luckily nobody got up during the show to pee. He had to be reminded from backstage to tell everyone to turn off their phones. It was like a visit from Arclight Petey, but somehow even less funny.

---Act One---

Lights off, curtain drawn, all of that. Lights up, and holy shit Vladimir is loud and bad at acting. He's shouting, mugging, prancing and gallivanting about. At one point he leans forward, into the first row and shouts in the face of the people right in front. Like, three inches away, if that. A few minutes later, they walked out. Then Pozzo and Lucky make their grand appearance. The most tragic kind of overacting is when the actor decides to go over the top in an attempt to disguise the fact that they don't quite understand the material. Pozzo was very, very guilty of this. Oh, and she was dressed like a Droog. That still wasn't the worst thing about her. I was sitting in the sixth of eight rows. I was tired and weary and glassy-eyed. I could still clearly see her nipple piercings beneath her shirt.
Photobucket


Now, I'm not the mayor of Squaresville, Daddyo. I like a good nipple piercing. (Nothing bigger than a B, by the way. Looks kinda weird.) I like tattoos, weird hair, crazy make-up, whatever. If you alter your body in a way that makes you more interesting to look at, then I'm game. However, I assure you that your character doesn't call for pierced nipples. I'm not saying you should take them out, just, you know, wear a bra.

Side note: One of the problems with Ross telling the audience that the play might take a turn for the interactive if someone went to the potty was it gave me a nigh-irresistible urge to heckle. I didn't, but boy did I want to. “We could hang ourselves!” “PLEASE DO.”

In addition to Vladimir screaming at the people in the front, Lucky has a giant screaming monologue that he delivered to the last person in the front row. It was awful. Just awful. Nobody else walked out, but it was really fucking uncomfortable. Apparently Vladimir and Lucky were asked by the other actors to step back a few feet for their screaming, but they refused. THIS IS THEATRE, MAN. THEY JUST HAVE TO FUCKING DEAL WITH IT. Yeah, except they paid you money.

---Intermission---

Lights off, lights on, intermission. I made a bee-line for the bathroom. As I got there, Pozzo was leaving. She had the same look on her face that you get when you hit a seagull with your car. She had shit this bathroom up like nobody's business. After I had done my business, I made it a point to leave the seat up so that it was perfectly clear that I wasn't the source of that horrifying stink. Back to my seat. Back to sleep.

---Act Two---

I woke up about five minutes into Act Two, when Vladimir started screaming again. No rest for the patron of the arts, I guess. The thing that bothered me the most about this particular performance was the remaining audience member in the front row. He was laughing and guffawing with with an intensity normally reserved for Gallagher shows. He was loving this shit and snapping pictures with great joy. I spent much of Act Two drifting in and out of sleep, checking text messages (bad patron!), and sighing loudly. I have no idea how women fake orgasms – I can barely fake watching a play. As Pozzo and Lucky roll around blindly on the floor, Vladimir screams and Estragon makes snide remarks, I could do little to keep myself from screaming and running out.

Finally, the play ended. Turns out, the guy who loved the play was a repeat customer. He spent a lot of time talking to Pozzo after the show, looking at her nipples. To be fair, I'd do the same if given the chance. The people who walked out during Act One, right after Vladimir shouted in their faces? Personal friends of Vladimir, who came at his behest. My wife thanked everybody for a singularly awful experience, and we left. On the way home we talked about how bad the play was, how much she hated Pozzo's stench, how Vladimir spits when he talks, and how much of his spit landed on my wife's face. She was given a check in the amount of fifty dollars for her efforts. Whoooo.

---

I really do love my wife. I think she's just fantastic, at pretty much anything. Maybe not dancing. Okay, she's a terrible dancer. But she is – she really is – a great actress, and I'm willing to support her in any way I can. Unless it involves going hours out of my way to see a play that we both know is going to be awful. I don't know how many more plays I can take. I really do try to care, I just have such a hard time. When she did A Company of Wayward Saints, I saw that probably five or six times. It was a great play, she was great in it and – most importantly – it was six blocks away from our apartment. I just honestly can't remember the last time I went to one of my wife's plays and had a really good time. I want to be a good husband, I just don't think I have the energy to see another shitty play where some guy screams about his prostate.

At least it was revealed afterward that I had been snuck in, and my wife didn't have to give Ross eight dollars. Gotta feel good about that.