Good Memories of 2011, Day 3: New York City

In New York, with Phil. I'm the one with glasses. (Photo by Angela Rockstroh)

Looking back at the “good memories” I’ve already posted, and the ones I plan to write, it’s striking how interwoven the subjects are, and how personal. In previous years I’ve posted some personal stuff, some entertainment stuff. But this year, the topics all fit together, bright shards from the broken window that was my 2011.

Day 1 I wrote about the electroconvulsive therapy I underwent as part of my ongoing battle with chronic depression. Day 2 I wrote about the music of the lovely and amazing Brandi Carlile, because her songs helped me cope during the dark times (as well as delighting and moving me even when I was doing well). Those posts are further related via the romantic break-up I suffered just before opting for the electroshock, a romance that was born and died while I listened to Brandi’s songs.

Today, I’m writing about a trip to New York City to visit friends. In memory, and at the time, that trip was bittersweet, because the original plan was for my sweetheart to visit me for several days here in Atlanta, then I’d accompany her on her train trip back to Philly for a brief visit, after which I’d continue on to NYC.

By the time of the trip, my sweetie was my sweetie no longer, and wouldn’t give me the time of day. The tedious loneliness of hundreds of miles of Amtrak travel were magnified as I thought of how the trip might have been with her at my side. While the train stopped in Philadelphia, I thought of tweeting “I tracked my heart to Philadelphia, then lost the trail forever.” But the thought seemed pathetic, so I didn’t. Right call, I think.

Then, while talking about her with my friends one day while walking through a New York City park, I realized the street musicians we’d just passed were playing “I Just Saw A Face,” the Beatles song which, covered by Brandi Carlile, was the tune I most identified with the start of that love.

Oh, synchronicity, how you can fuck with a guy.

See how everything is intertwined? Continue reading

Good Memories of 2011, Day 2: Brandi Carlile

A lot of folks don’t know Brandi Carlile, which is a shame. I’ve been listening to her for a few years now, featuring her music here several times. She’s a wonderful talent. This year, no other artist was there for me as much as she was, in good times and in bad.

Early in the year, her live cover of The Beatles’ “I Just Saw A Face” perfectly captured the wonder and joy I felt when I looked at the woman I loved… Continue reading

Good Memories of 2011, Day 1: Electroshock Therapy

 

Yeah, I know. Electroshock therapy? A good memory?

Yep.

I’ve struggled greatly, for years, with chronic, terrible depression, and I’ve done therapy and all sorts of self help and multifarious concoctions of antidepressant meds, but nothing actually worked to any significant degree. I finally got desperate and started looking into electroshock, or as it’s known these days, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Continue reading

Good Memories of 2011?

 

The past few years, I’ve started each new year with a few posts about “Good Memories” from the previous year, things that I enjoyed or that had special meaning to me. So far, this year I haven’t done that. (To see earlier good memories, just click on the “Good Memories” category in the sidebar.)

I have given a lot of thought to doing it, and have a handful of posts in mind, but motivation has been lacking. Last year was largely painful for me, and there aren’t many things that stand out as particularly “good.” And so far this year my depression has its claws in my back and when I try to move forward it just digs in deeper.

Still, the act of writing the posts, of writing at all, is a kick in the nuts to Demon Depression, and I am starting to make some headway again (he typed, hearing the rhythmic sloosh of laundry washing in the next room). So in the next week or two, I plan to get on with it.

I also plan to get back to blogging more in general again. I’ve been in a slump for a while, for a lot of reasons (many of them bad memories), and I know the world needs my wisdoms.

Good Memories of 2010, Day 7: Kick-Ass

I loved the movie Kick-Ass.

What, you didn’t? That’s fine. Hear me out.

I’ll be the first to admit that it sets up a scenario as its foundation that it ultimately blithely abandons, the whole “what would it be like if someone tried, in real life, to be a costumed superhero?” thing. As an exploration of that theme, it’s mostly a failure, though it does sort of tell us that if someone did that they’d get the shit beat out of them a lot and possibly die. Which may be all we need to know.

By giving us those answers early in the film, though, it does add to the vulnerability of its hero, Dave Lizewski aka Kick-Ass, and we never doubt that he is all too mortal. The old rule in writing is “Mistreat your protagonist,” and Dave really gets his share.

In a review at Comic Book Resources, comic writer Steven Grant made some interesting commentary on the movie’s thematic shift:

[Kick-Ass] cheats right and left on its premise. Once donning his goofy costume, a mish-mash of scuba gear and ski mask, Kick-Ass quickly demonstrates why people are generally disinclined to wear costumes and fight crime in the real world. Once that point is made, though, the intro premise is thrown away so quickly it’s like watching a stage magician make a prop vanish, and to the same effect: it draws the audience further into the show…

If the film cheats on practically every level, that’s why it works. That’s where much of the humor comes from…When characters try to anticipate how “real world” superheroes will or should act, they resort to their only frame of reference – comic books – despite no natural law requiring people to behave like comic book characters when they put on comic book costumes. But we say “but of course” because it’s also our only frame of reference and in the logic of the film it makes sense: if you’re trying to emulate comic book characters, you emulate comic book characters, and when the film finally makes the notion explicit we’re already so deep into the magician’s act that our instinct is to play along.

Kick-Ass is both one of the best and purest superhero films yet and mostly not a superhero movie at all. Continue reading

Good Memories of 2010, Day 6: Red Dead Redemption

My son asks me periodically what my favorite videogame of all time is. In the past, Halo and God of War (both as trilogies) and Batman: Arkham Asylum have occupied the top spot, depending on my mood when he asked me. But the last time he asked, I said Red Dead Redemption.

RDR is ostensibly a distant sequel to Red Dead Revolver, which I reviewed a long time ago here, but it’s really a sequel only in titular branding. The earlier game was an arcadish shooter in a small world, with a whisper-thin story (and hideous voice acting). The new game is so much more. Continue reading

Good Memories of 2010, Day 5: 1978

In 2009, my ex and I established a Christmas tradition of sharing music from our youths with my son by giving him a representative sampling from the year we were his current age.

This year, he’s fourteen, and since I was fourteen in 1978, I went on a sonic archaeological dig of that year to decide what to share.

I had this on my wall in 1978

My approach is to buy him two albums from the time, and to burn a collection of various hits as well. The two CDs I chose were Van Halen’s Van Halen (their hellaciously strong debut with a bunch of classics like “Runnin’ With The Devil” and “You Really Got Me”) and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell (“Would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses…?”). Continue reading