Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tree Charm, Public Speaking, and the Final Death Blow to my Vestigial Film Snobbery

I was at a work conference in Vancouver, WA early this week (hence my tardy posting), and as such, had a lot time to loll around in my hotel room in the evenings at a loss for entertainment. I could go out into the hallway and listen to the canned sounds of chirping birds that the hotel saw fit to pipe into the common areas in an attempt at “rustic charm”, but that was only fun for about three minutes. I could go to the pool, but it was shallow and small and populated by tiny humans in water wings who threw temper tantrums when told by their beleaguered parents it was time to leave. I could go to the hotel bar and drink alone, but that felt sort of pathetic. So I finally bit the bullet and paid four bucks to download “Inside Llewyn Davis” on my Kindle. And never have I wasted four bucks and ninety minutes of my time in a more foolish manner. There was no point to that movie! The music was beautiful, it looked pretty, but nothing effin’ happened, and it then just ended. Puzzled, I read some critic’s reviews, all of which raved about its brilliance, keen wit, and deep significance, leaving me to squint in apparently anti-intellectual befuddlement.

Here’s what happens in the movie: Mopey, broke, but talented 60’s folk singer Llewyn wanders around Greenwich Village wearing an inadequate coat and looking perpetually victimized. There’s an orange cat. His ex-girlfriend is furious at him for indiscernible reasons. He sings at coffee shops (quite well.) He meets some self-consciously eccentric people. He acts badly. He gets beat up twice in an alley by a mysterious man who is also indiscernibly furious with him. Then someone steals his cab. And that’s the end. I had to re-watch the last twenty minutes just make sure I didn’t miss something. Look, people, I give up. I used to be so good at this film snobbery stuff. I probably would have “gotten” this totally back in my twenties. But now it just seems like lazy storytelling; filmmaking in the service of showcasing “hilarious” eccentric characters for their own sake, rather than for the purpose of moving a coherent narrative forward. But what the heck do I know? Apparently, I’ve lost all sense of taste. This is it--the final death blow to my vestigial film snobbery. Fine. I was better off without it. I’m going to go watch “Transformers 3” now, and I plan to love every second of it.

The conference was fun. I got to reconnect with some people I don’t get to see very often, and…I had my Big Moment of Presenting! At the podium, with a Powerpoint and a microphone and everything. In spite of having a degree in a theater and a past where I did a lot of stage acting, I’m always really terrified when I have to actually stand in front of people and talk. I always had awful stage fright, too, but acting is different. I could vanish completely into a character, so acting didn’t feel like putting myself out there; it just felt like expressing another person. More and more lately I find myself in a position where I am making public presentations of some kind or another. And I while don’t think I suck at it, and I get good feedback, I know I could be better at it. So….drum roll please…I have decided to join Toastmasters! That is my one big self-improvement move for the year. (Don’t ask me to do anything else.)

Oh, also, there was an auction, and I got a really cool painting of a tree (shown here.) We just don’t know where to hang it yet. It’s big, and frankly, I was enamored by its charm, and I didn’t really think that part through. 

--Kristen McHenry

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