Sunday, August 28, 2005

Changesbethel

"The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it."
Meditations

I had a History professor that described his craft as being "the study of change--over time," complete with pause and an additional Nigerian accent. That quote is the only information I took from that class, having failed it miserably, and it often gives me cause to devle deeper into my everyday thinking.

A buddy of mine recently visited after having been away for a good while, and his own homeward observations were a bit startling. The buzzword of his article was change, a word whose meaning increased in vagueness (like most words do) when repeated within a short span of time. It lead me to wonder what change meant, not only to him, but to myself. He said people had not changed whereas he had, but he never specified what changes had occured to him, leaving the possibility for interpretation wide open. Physical change? Economic? Emotional? Psychological? Political? Sexual? What qualifications specify a change, and what is the foundation he bases his critique on? That is, what does he consider change?

I guess this is where I shall try to define the term, though I promise it will be useless and without much meaning. The problem with saying something has or has not changed is that change itself is completely relative. On a quick skim of a person in front of me, all I could judge would be how much that person has changed from how I remember them being. But that does not mean that person is not different from when I last saw them. To truly find out how much a person has changed, I would have to sit and spend time with him/her, to converse and compare, gather data then compare notes at the end of the day. So, I would say change is the evaluation of a person's personality and examining the differences between the most recent point of interrogation and the last one.

But that's still not right, for to acknowledge that a change has occurred in your life, does that event need to be seconded by a second party? No. Change is whatever you want it to be. To every single person there is their own set of criteria for a gradation of change, those that determine small changes (such as eating cantaloupe for breakfast instead of Frosted Mini Wheats) to large (I think I'll change my name to Kunta Kinte and live for a year in silence). Change isn't only what is noticeable, but that which remains inside which counts for as much as anything else.

I would like to think that there is a gradation of change. As youths, people are 'looking for themselves', we are trying to find a way to be comfortable in the life around us. As we age and we find that comfort zone, I think that the change that we knew as youths would shrink away, because we are comfortable in our adult lives and our yearly processions are marked only by little, personal changes that probably affect us more than the 'large' changes of our youth. It could also be in the way we handle these changes, or the obstacles that cause us to change. Those who have grown comfortable will be able to "change" in stride and, as a matter of course; the "change" wouldn't be as noticeable as it would be in an unprepared younger person.

Everybody has hidden facets that won't be (or shouldn't be) revealed. Everybody is private to an extent, even those as shallow as a dinner plate. The funny thing is, I had reminisced during my friend's visit, relished even, in the fact that he had not changed at all since I first met him in the seventh grade. He was still the same guy I had always known and it was a comfort to know that underneath all the overt changes that happen to a person, that he would always be my good friend, a buddy I could always counting on being himself. So now, I'm actually interested to see what these big changes in his life are and if I would consider them to be "big changes" or if he's just acting in character, doing the things that makes sense within the limits of his personality (as I know it).

I don't know if the people my friend ran into had changed or not, but that's not the point. I think maybe he was hoping they hadn't because he felt his life was getting a bit unstable, or "full of changes". Or maybe he was projecting his fears at becoming stagnant onto the lives of those who he only sees in short, distanced intervals. The thing is that we're all changing whether we want to or not, or whether those close to us want us to or not, it's always happening. Big or small, people change everyday. My life changed a lot when my girlfriend's mother suddenly died, my life changed a little when I got straight A's last quarter. But what I can't change is the overly didactic, maniacal tone of this Boast of Bethel--I'm sorry and I'll stop now.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

BART

Bathroom ART, that is. Here are some pictures I took whilst sitting on the john making a deposit. Lucky that I had a camera within arm's reach to capture the beauty that is my bathroom. Enjoy!


My first attempt. Not art, but at least mildly interesting.


Looking straight up from the recepticle of my waste into the skylight.


Same shot, sans flash.

And there you go! My duty and doody was completed shortly after this shot and life went on as normal.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

My Beef Is With Burton--Step Aside, Willy.

I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and it pissed me off. The problem is that I also loved it. So, naturally, I started wondering how the hell I could love a movie and hate it at the same time.
It works like this: when I see the movie (3 times, now) I love the damned thing, but when afterwards, when I start thinking about the flick, that's when I start to lose all faith, not in the movie, but in its creator, the wily filmmaker Tim Wonka--er, Burton. But I'll get to that later.

One of the biggest things I encounter is the public's need to compare this production with the 1971 release, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. As my roommate Robert so artfully said about the two films, "Apples and oranges, man." And I would agree. While that may just sound like someone desiring to shirk the comparison, someone who doesn't want to accept that a new film was made, I think to argue which film is better would lead into a never-ending battle akin to those about abortion and gay-marriage--both sides defiantly know that their stance is the right one.

One of the most common arguments I hear in favor for Burton's escapade is the whiny, "It's closer to the book." How? Because it changed the title back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Weird, because Roald Dahl actually wrote the screenplay for the first one (admittedly, he initially wasn't happy with the final product, but grew to accept it). It's true that the new film sticks decidedly to many details of the book, but the focus of the movie is entirely away from the book and into the mind of Tim Burton and the apparent psychological issues he needs to address.

The fact that the centerpiece for the story revolves upon Wonka's strained and troubled relationship with his father draws away any validity that the movie is "closer to the book" than its predecessor because Wilbur Wonka, D.D.S. is a figment of Burton's and his screenwriter's imagination. Not to say that this was a bad idea, far from it, but don't ignore that this flick isn't any truer a representation of Dahl's book than the 1971 production. In fact, I'm convinced that, in their own ways, both films are remarkably close to the book. As I watched the new movie I was startled at how often I was able to predict dialogue, referencing the scene to the same in the first movie. Since Burton openly stated that he did not use the 1971 version as a guide, I can only assume that the line was taken from the book. And these strange premonitions happened often as I watched Depp cavort around pale-faced and giddy.

The subject of the two films are actually inverted from their titles; that is, WWATCF focuses upon Charlie Bucket's morally strong character, while CATCF is an investigation of Willy Wonka's personal problems. As I thought about the new movie, I noticed that the deal with Wonka's father is not necessarily strange to Burton's movies and have become a central concern in his recent movies. Think about it, both this film and his previous jaunt, Big Fish, focus upon a son's broken relationship with his father. And in previous films the idea takes a supporting role, but the idea of a lost parent and the left behind child happens to pop up a lot (Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Ed Wood [Wood and his relationship with Bela Lugosi] come to mind). My initial reaction upon this realization was along the lines of, "Aw, dude--c'mon and get over it!" though part of me went wildly uproarious: "I'm onto you now, Burton."

But when I calmed, I realized that it doesn't really matter if Burton shoves this "Does my father love me?" crap at us all the time, because it is something he does rather well. A lot of writers/artists have a repeating theme within their works, most of whom I respect, and I won't try to slap them down because of it.

It's a good flick, a very good flick and everybody should check it out if they haven't already.

EDIT: I really like Tim Burton's movies or else I wouldn't dive in so deeply.