Monthly Archives: September 2014

Silver Lining?

I finally watched the movie Silver Linings Playbook this past weekend. If you haven’t seen it, please stop reading as there will be spoilers. Not that there’s any great mystery going on but still.

Much as I enjoy Jennifer Lawrence, I had avoided this film in theaters because the trailer and commercials sold it as a comedy. Oscar nominations or not, it looked fluffy with a great deal of potential to make light of those with mental illness, if not completely make fun of them. I didn’t want to think that such a film would be up for so many awards but this is Hollywood.

A couple of minor issues right off the bat. First, I don’t buy Bradley Cooper as Italian. Just…no. Second, Pat meets Tiffany and she instantly sees right through him. I understand blunt honesty and I have no problem with that, but five minutes after she meets him, she’s telling him about himself? Did her sister tell her more about him than we see? I also understand that it’s a two hour movie and we sort of have to jump right into that. It just seems to happen a little fast.

So on to the stuff I did like. I feel like the mental illness in this movie is graded on a continuum. Pardon the expression, but everyone is a little bit crazy. There’s Tiffany’s sister who is a little too obsessed with her gadgets and making sure everything appears perfect even as her husband is miserable. There’s Pat Sr. who has to have his remotes pointed just so for the football game. How these things are usually viewed depends on context, perception, and degree. Pat’s mother seems to barely notice her husband’s quirks because that’s just how he is and he isn’t hurting anyone. Pat Jr., however, sees the OCD for what it is.

Pat’s outbursts over seemingly random and minor things felt authentic and were disturbing to watch. I also found it rather telling when he told his therapist that “I don’t explode. That’s my dad. He’s the one who explodes.” I have a feeling that entire chapters of the book are contained in that one sentence.

Finally, the bipolar dance routine? Awesome. I loved it. Even if the rest of the ending was a bit predictable and sappy. I love that they didn’t nail the Big Move. I love how much fun they had with the whole thing and that Tiffany wanted to enter just to have fun.

In some ways, this film reminded me of Secretary. I’ve seen a lot of people take issue with Secretary because it once again makes kinky people appear broken in some way. But what I’ve always liked about it is that neither of them are trying to fix the other. Rather, they find healthier outlets for their desires. They find that other person who understands and makes it okay to not be “normal.” And Silver Linings Playbook did the same thing.

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What I thought I “Knew”

Almost a week ago, my girlfriend and I were doing our thing, getting it on. It was normal foreplay and I was already imagining  the happy ending. And then, a couple of knuckles deep in my sex, my down there, my happy place, she asked the fateful question.

“Do you feel that?’

“No…”

Next time you have a checkup, you might want to have that looked at.”

Umm…yeah…despite being at an age where I should be getting such checkups, I don’t. I’m kind of guy-like in that I have to really think something is wrong in order to see a doctor. As I told her later, “At some point I got really good at not doing things I didn’t want to do.”

My girl hard-on was gone though. I instantly panicked, my brain started churning, and all I could see were worst case scenarios.

Without a regular doctor to go to, I went to a Planned Parenthood and made an appointment. Total time between meltdown and checkup – almost five days. Five days of intermittent panic broken up by periods of forcing myself not to imagine the future because there was nothing I could do about it.

I went to a party Saturday night and friends asked how I was. Some I could lie to, smile and nod to, talk and socialize with. Others, people I felt close to, I had a harder time with. Saying I was  “fine” just didn’t cut it and I couldn’t come up with a shorthand for “I’m terrified but have to pretend I’m not until at least Tuesday.”

When it was finally time for the appointment, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect anymore. In my mind, I could have been walking into a death sentence. I assumed there would be tests, scans, a long wait for results. I was prepared for anything except for what happened.

A nurse looked inside, felt around a little and said, “everything looks and feels fine.”

I thought I would cry. And then I realized I would have to explain to this stranger why I was crying now of all times. Still, those are some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard.

I’m going to go live my life again. And resolve to get more routine tests.

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The Artist vs. The Person

Does a person have to be nice to be talented or influential?

It’s a subject that has come to mind occasionally before but hit particularly close to home last week with the death of Joan Rivers.

As a music fan, I had previously asked the question about people like Ike Turner and Phil Spector. I truly believe if you can separate their professional lives from their personal ones that their influence and brilliance is undeniable. True, Spector is and has always been an asshole professionally as well (ask Darlene Love) but does that take away from the amazing sound he perfected if not invented? Is Turner less of a great musician because he beat his wife?

Certainly these are not likeable people but I don’t think that negates their talent or their accomplishments. Would their accomplishments be the same if they had been kinder? I like to think so, and of course I wish that had been the case. But the facts remain.

When Joan Rivers died, the first thing that came to mind was her obnoxious schtick and overly critical fashion police. But I am aware that there was more to her than that. She started in comedy at a time when there were few other women around. She opened doors for who knows how many women who came after her.

And then I was reminded, by two separate people, of some comments she made last year. “Those girls in the basement in Cleveland had more room than we did.”

 I’d forgotten about that. And it wasn’t just that comment, which I actually found less offensive than the ones she made subsequently. As she kept talking in the days following that, she only made it worse.

So yes, I was offended. But I also wasn’t that big a fan at that point. I already thought of her as a caricature and barely paid attention to her at all. For me though, it also didn’t negate what she had done previously, And I suppose I would prefer to remember her as the funny, pioneering woman that she was instead of the ugly personality she became.

I don’t ask people to agree and I don’t ask that anyone – especially Clevelanders – forget what she became and what she said. But it wasn’t the whole of her.  

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