Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I don't celebrate Lent, in case you were wondering. But I've decided that I'm going to give something up from now until April, which makes this abstinence kind of Lentish.

I'm leaving the blogosphere.

It's my intention, though not my promise, not to blog from now until April. Furthermore, it's my intention not to read blogs during this same period. So if you want to make fun of me in blog form, now's the time. It will be behind my back until April Fools.


Primarily, I want to see if I notice an increase in "free time" by abstaining from the reading and writing of blogs. Free time, that magical luxury of yesteryear, seems to be lacking in my life. I'm sure it's around, but I don't feel it. I would like to get it back, so for this period at least I'm going on sabbatical.

Another question is whether this should be permanent. I'll certainly go back to reading blogs in April, though perhaps I'll cull my blog role. The question is if I should continue to blog at the same pace, cut back, or discontinue altogether. For this I need your assistance.

If you read my blog regularly, please post in the comments section of this post. "I read your blog" will suffice, though a clever snippet or posting your favorite knock-knock joke would be better. Google Analytics tells me how many readers I average, but I would like to see how many of them are actual dedicated readers. So while this is certainly reeks of attention grabbing, some gage of interest would help me judge how much time I'd like to allot to blogging in future months.

Thanks for your help, and see you in April.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Watching Watchmen

In anime (yes, a review of a comic book movie, citing anime, written on opening night. There is no doubt of my nerd cred) they often make a movies based on television series. For instance, say Lost comes out and is a popular tv show. So they decide to make Lost movie. The Lost movie will tell the same story as the 1st season of Lost. Except now Jack and Kate are married and Hurley is their kid. They take the story of the show, condense it down to a couple hours and tweak a couple plot points for convenience and for added variety.

This is kind of what happened in Watchmen.

To be sure, Zack Snyder was extremely faithful to his source material. But there was simply too much story for one movie. I think it's kind of pretentious to call things deep, but at the very least Watchmen is complex. There are many stories being told at once, and many are quite detailed, and necessarily so. It is simply too much to fit into a movie.

I liked it. But Brighteyes was confused throughout. Those anime movies aren't really made to be the introduction to the story. They're meant to be a conclusion. They're meant to be a consolidation of things you've seen and thought about during the series, and putting a slightly different light on it. Starting with the movie and then watching the series just isn't the way to do it. You watch the series, then the movie. Likewise, reading Watchmen, then seeing it seems to be the best way to enjoy them both.

Watchmen is a hard sell. The superfans are mad that one iota has been changed from the book. The book is good, but it's not sacrosanct people. The casual viewer will be confused. Now I have issues with lazy viewers. If you didn't get The Matrix, you're lazy and/or stupid. It wasn't complicated. If you don't get Watchmen, it's because there's a lot of explanation that's left out. So the movie isn't really great for veterans or for rookies. Only for those of us that fall in the middle.

So what can I say, I had a great time. It's a complicated movie, and has some pretty glaring flaws, but it also has a lot of things going for it. Rorschach is 8 kinds of awesome for one. Dr. Manhattan was done very well, which was kind of surprising to me. In fact, all the characters were presented well, save Ozymandias. The action was fantastic, but if you're looking for action you should look elsewhere. If you want a provocative stylish epic and can handle the flaws (and the violence, and the nudity, and the poor soundtrack) it's a good bet.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The answer is no

Every now and again someone welcomes me with this:

"Hey Chris, you dating Pseudonym yet?"

Yes, Pseudonym is a place-holder. But wouldn't it be funny to have Pseudonym as your pseudonym?

Back to my point, this is a weird thing to say. Someone said it again to me yesterday. I'd probably get asked this less if I were dating someone. But I'm not, and regardless, it's a weird thing to say.

  1. If the speaker is my buddy, this is fine. We've probably talked about who I'm trying to woo. But they should probably know already.
  2. If the speaker is married/coupled, it can sound patronizing. "I'm happy, here's the obvious solution that you've somehow missed you stupid stupid single person. Stupid."
  3. If the speaker is single, their discussion of me dating someone else implies that they're not interested in me.
  4. If Pseudonym is someone I'm not interested in, it's off-putting. Really? You think mayonnaise will go well on my pie? Really?
  5. If Pseudonym is someone I am interested in, it provides false validation. "Exactly! It's obvious to everyone except Pseudonym that we're perfect for each other."

I'm not oversensitive. I'm really quite undersensitive. I wasn't offended at this question yesterday, nor have I ever been. It's just a weird way to say hello. This coming from someone who frequently uses questions as his salutations.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Warm Gun

I’ve been using some of my favorite German words lately. Scheisse, gestalt, gluckschmerz. As the video above alluded, today’s word is schadenfreude.

I’ve been thinking a bit about happiness lately.

I watched Happy Go Lucky last weekend, which I think was an overlooked film from this last year. Certainly I don’t think that just because it got a Best Actress nomination it’s automatically a worthwhile movie. But turns out that it is.


I don’t think that I’ll ever watch it again. Furthermore, I didn’t even like watching it during a fair amount of the movie. And the pacing was very tedious. And I didn’t get a lot of the jokes. But it was worth seeing because it makes some very interesting points about happiness, which is a pretty worthwhile subject to dissect. The main character is irritatingly happy. All the time. Nearly everyone else in the movie isn’t. If this were a typical Hollywood flick Poppy would fix everyone else with her boundless giggling chipperdom. But she doesn’t. People around her choose to be unhappy, and mostly they stay that way by the end of the film. Being happy, acting happy, optimism, frivolity, love, sex; it was interesting how the movie separates lots of things that we associate together and shows how they don’t necessarily have to be linked. Whether characters had a lot, a little, nothing at all, it was really about being content. Happiness is an attitude, not a situation, or as Poppy shows, a behavior. It was certainly a worthwhile watch.

Another thing I watched last week was a short film called Validation.


It’s rather heavy-handed, but well done. The character (I forget his name, but he’s on Bones) shows that happiness can be manufactured. He decides to be happy, and to make others happy. But again, the narrative shows you can’t force happiness on others, just suggest it.

Back to schadenfreude, or more accurately, back to gluckschmerz. To the best of my understanding, since I don’t sprechen sie Deutsches, gluckschmerz is the opposite of schadenfreude. That’s not really accurate since schadenfreude is taking pleasure at other people’s pain, the exact opposite would be taking pleasure at other people’s happiness. Which is a good thing certainly. Gluckschmerz is being unhappy due to someone’s happiness. I posted it as a blog entry in a cathartic/ironic/experimental way. I was indeed feeling unhappy due to an abundance of happiness in my vicinity. Gluckschmerz, I think most would agree, is bad. It is unproductive. But is schadenfreude bad?

Causing someone pain in order to feel pleasure is sadism, and I’d say it’s bad. Even if there are masochists involved, causing people pain is just a bad habit to have. Schadenfreude on the other hand is just pulling happiness out of the air, where it didn’t previously exist. You’re not hurting anyone, you’re just becoming happier due to unavoidable circumstances. Which sounds pretty productive. It’s like recycling; turning something bad into something good.

I’ve noticed that the exact same stimulus can have opposite effects on me. I can see something happy and become either happier or sadder. I can see something sad and become either sadder or happier. It makes sense that I choose to be happy whenever possible. So should I let schadenfreude run uninhibited? It doesn’t seem nice, but does seem efficient. Your unhappiness makes me happy now; my unhappiness makes you happy later. End result: increased happiness. Certainly, it would be better to actively make someone happy (charity, service, comradery and all that) but when there’s nothing to actively do to prevent the misery, she we then revel because of it? Again, it doesn’t seem nice, but I can’t really see a reason not to.