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Nay to Bay to Breakers

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Many a  Sunday afternoon, I find myself trapped in a maudlin hell of about five hours long. I am like the ram that gets his horns stuck in a bramble, I tell myself.  When the poor guy realizes he’s stuck, he panics and desperately tries to pull his horns out, only to further enmesh himself. This is what I have come to expect from Sundays.  ‘Tis a bramble one cannot escape quietly.  That’s just the way it is. I can’t crawl out of my skin so why try?  Roll with it. Recently a well-meaning friend reminded a girlfriend and I that Bay to Breakers was coming up on Sunday as he searched our faces for instantaneous traces of glee.  None cometh. I think there may have been a little eye rollage though  if he was looking closely enough. When he breathlessly announced that he fully intended to go to the locus of the shitstorm for purposes of not-so-innocent voyeurism we began to feel sorry for him.

Would it help my Sunday if I joined the masses? Do I really need yet another  example and reminder of the arrested development that permeates our fair maiden of a city? Hmm, let me think about that. Negatory. This Sunday, will however, call for the double pre-empt. One, it is Sunday, two I am expected to click my heels together at the notion of fully grown adults prancing around half-nude to nude and letting out their inner sluts whilst boozefied. Bay to Breakers is an additional Halloween (read: an excuse for women to dress sluttier than they usually do and an excuse for men to profiteer from that fleeting window in time when they don’t have to put in as much effort to spread their seed.) I suppose it works out for everybody?  Kind of?

I don’t mind or judge the revelry, unless I step back for a minute and observe from a bird’s eye perspective what’s really going on, at which point it all seems a bit ridiculous and embarrassing. I decide this is not something to which any stable, grown adult should aspire, so in order to avoid the pathos of the day, I’m projecting myself straight into the safe confines of the cinema house where Mardi Gras beads, opportunists of all stripes and public urination cannot touch me. Jane Eyre and Hanna will protect and soothe me for four whole hours. Le Sigh. Bring on the picture show.

It just so happens that this double feature of two female badasses was the perfect antidote to the day. While the majority of the “runners” spent today showing their pieces parts and costumes en masse, I spent it with two fiercely independent strong-willed characters, Jane Eyre & Hanna the 16 year old CIA-trained assassin.

Charlotte Bronte has endeared herself to many with the story of Jane Eyre and I was riveted by the impenetrable mettle of an abused orphan transformed into steely yet kind governess, into experientially naïve yet maternal lover, into scorned victim of deception, into teacher, into missionary heartbreaker to whom she reports:“I love you like a brother.” Ouch!  Into……. I shan’t spoil the entire ending.  Mia Wasikowska had great pacing and a couple of moving scenes in which she rendered herself Thief of All Tears. Stop making me look like a driveling sap in public dammit! Worth a look if not only for the supporting role of Dame Judi Dench. Or even the witty retorts Jane Eyre delivers to ball bust her boss-turned-lover which, although well-deserved, likely started the home fires burning if you catch my drift. Must see the movie to catch the pun. All’s well that ends well per usual. Kind of.

After revving up my cinematic palate with a Jane Ap-Eyre-Tif, I gorged myself on every minute detail of Hanna – intently. Hanna (with Eric Bana) was a refreshing surprise and my kind of movie. It had everything a girl could want: Stealth, Danger, Suspense, Cinematography El Primo, a blood-pumping Soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers, the CIA, Flamenco dancing & singers for Christ’s Sake (I needed a ciggy after that one and I don’t even smoke), Cate Blanchett in an almost there American accent (although much better than that Katharine Hepburn mess of an accent she tried to pull off in Aviator), the formidable Saoirse Ronan speaking in Arabic, Spanish, Italian & German, a few good chases and a bit of a twist.  The screenplay writer Seth Lochhead conceived the story when he was a student at Vancouver Film School.  Well done, lad.

Although I was still fully clothed when I left the theater and didn’t reek of booze or piss, the path of civilization never did let me down. I think I prefer the sandbox where all the grown-ups and artists hang out.  Avoiding the coarse crowds where everyone revels in how “free” they are for a day made me happy to be chained to my sanity and dignity…and reminded me of a line from that sweet Bob Dylan song, “Ballad in Plain D”:

“My friends from the prison they ask unto me. How good, how good does it feel to be free? And I answer them most mysteriously: Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”



Rant Day: Things I Don’t Have Time For

I’m feeling bitter today so forgive me while I expel some misanthropic phlegm.  I either woke up on the wrong side of the bed, the barometric pressure is too high or I’m having an allergy attack from too much holiday spirit; but I am grouchy today and unapologetic about it – forewarned is forearmed.  So today I’m giving attention to those things causing me an excessive amount of irritation.  Please just give me the room to be a bitch today. Thank you.  It’s better for everyone.

Small Talk:  I hate it.  Although people awkwardly watching numbers in elevators may disagree with me, I think small talk is totally useless and irritating.  I think I would rather be sunbathing by a mosquito-infested swamp in the tropics rather than trapped in an elevator or at a company party forced to make small talk with someone.  And that’s exactly what it is – forced.  It’s conversation you don’t want to have, don’t care about and doesn’t come naturally but that you have to have so you don’t come off as a royal asshole.  “Hey, how was your weekend? Great, yours?  Oh, it was great, we took the kids down to Disneyland but Noah got sick on the way back.  Oh, that’s a shame – those kids are like walking petrie dishes. <<Ding>> Well, here’s my stop.  Hey, you have a good day now.  You too, take care.”  OMG.  Shoot me in the face please.  For whatever reason, the “etiquette” of small talk seems to be more rampant in the U.S.  It probably started with all that smiley-faced “Have a nice day.” crap.  Basically anytime you’re peppering your conversation with superficial fluff and asking people questions while simultaneously walking away forgetting that you don’t care about hearing the answer, it’s considered a

“good business practice.”  Hot forks in eyes please!!! What is the point of blathering on with filler conversation that isn’t remotely interesting.  There IS a point right? How revolting. Misanthropic tendency #1.   

Inappropriately Quiet Speakers: It also irks me when I can’t hear people speak – either in person or on the phone.  You know the type of person I’m talking about.  The kind that can’t seem to muster the strength to speak above a whisper; like they’re learning a new language and are unsure of themselves.  Perhaps it’s the woman trying to convince you she’s a passive geisha who doesn’t know how to speak above 15 decibels.  Or that flatliner with low blood sugar who gives the impression he doesn’t feel anything he has to say is worth hearing.  It’s infuriating.  I’d rather be yelled at or greeted with closed-mouth silence, but please don’t make me strain to hear you or waste energy asking you to speak up.  And I know that you go home and yell at your kids, so cease and desist with the quiet/shy game.

Passive Oglers:  I’m not even talking about the catcalls from construction workers.  I’m talking about those types of men who spend inordinate amounts of time staring, as if the women in a bar were wares at a Sotheby’s auction.  Of course, they never walk up to enquire about the item or place a bid – this is San Francisco after all.  In New York, a man would be on you in  five minutes of walking into a public place and already have started a conversation.  Here, our lions (lionesses?) just hang back and watch, intimidated and subservient.  Tres annoying.  Grow a set, please.  One need not be crass in order to be assertive or masculine.  Being a gentleman always works, but so does a little testosterone. 

Quasi-Celebrities Who Are Taking Up Unnecessary Space & Oxygen and Reality TV:  Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, The Kardashians, Paris Hilton, Courtney Love, Lindsay Lohan, Tom Cruise, Jessica Simpson, Dr. Phil McGraw, Jon & Kate, and last but not least, Octo-mom.  Heidi, Spencer, The Kardashians, Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton are all vapid attention whores.  Courtney

and Lindsay are conspicuous and cringeable train wrecks.  Tom Cruise is a loco, narcissistic, control freak and fanatical cult-follower while still managing to monopolize the prize for “Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed.”  Dr. Phil McGraw is annoying and just the type of Mr. Fix-It, holier-than-thou shrink who I would expect to divorce his wife after he made it big or cheat on her with a stewardess explaining away that he is not perfect, although he still gives perfect advice.  Jon & Kate are barnacles on the bottom of a boat when it comes to scraping every last crumb of fame out of an already shallow bucket.  Octo-Mom is a circus and an embarrassment to the tree that made the paper that gives her press. Reality TV?  Don’t get me started, I’d like to keep my blood pressure on the low side of high today. Suffice it to say, it’s all Krapfelgergen.  If you can name one worthwhile Reality show and 3 reasons why it’s worth the time to watch, I’ll puree my eyeballs and drink them in a smoothie.  Most of it is mediocre voyeurism at best. 

I think I’m feeling a little bit better now.  Much better than had I plastered on a fake smile and told someone what a great day I was having or asked them what kind of toast they had for breakfast.