Friday, April 01, 2011
When I first became unemployed, the one bright spot was that I assumed I'd have scads of free time previously wasted in the tedium of commuting to an office and working there and commuting back home and decompressing from a hard day's labor -- and that I could devote at least a segment of this voluminous free time to the various and sundry intellectual pursuits that I would engage in if I were in my "natural" state, with no job to go to and no deadlines to meet. I'd live at the museum. Writing projects would pour out fully formed without the dam of bill-paying labor in the way. My guitar playing would approach Reinhardtesque levels of sophistication.
This has not happened. My days are just as busy as they were when I had a job, except now I don't get paid. A goldfish grows to match the size of its bowl, and busywork grows to match the size of your empty day.
Example: All month I've been trying to find a few hours on a Tuesday morning to visit the Museum of Fine Arts to attend a series of lectures of American film directors. I was just able to get in on today's, a 90-minute talk on Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. These guys are #1 and #3 on my list of favorite moviemakers. Woody Allen is the main reason why I write comedy. It'd be a shame if I missed it.
While I waited for the lecture, I snuck a look at the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture above, just recently installed. I kept wanting to touch it. Because it's green.
The lecture wasn't what I had expected. Most of the people there were old. And not just old, but decrepit, gray-haired and shuffling, people who get discounts on the subway and who have dentures and who remember getting telegrams. These are people who can tell you the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. In this room, there were fewer natural hips than people. It makes sense, given that the thing took place at 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. Who else is going to film lectures at that time, except retired people and the unemployed? I hadn't thought ahead. It's not that I went looking for friends, but I hate looking around and seeing nobody like me.
The guy delivering the lecture was a professor from BC and a Jesuit priest. So naturally he yammered on about religion most of the time. There were audible sighs from people around me as he kept diverting the conversation away from the films and back toward religion, for some reason. He seemed particularly annoyed at Woody Allen, which makes sense considering Woody's an agnostic. He accused him of intellectual fraud, saying he was intelligent but shallow because he doesn't engage in discussion with academics (like him, naturally), which struck me as a load of utter horseshit. He showed a clip from Crimes and Misdemeanors, to be honest kind of a preachy, straight-forward scene where the characters discuss morality and ethics and God, and seemed irritated that the characters talked about God in a way that he thought wasn't concrete enough. More tellingly, he also told us how he wrote to Woody seeking permission to quote from his scripts in a book and Woody's secretary wrote him a snotty letter in return telling him, essentially, that he should've filed his permission request anally. So I think there's something more insidious to his critique than aesthetics.
He spent so much time talking religion that he barely showed any film clips -- which, if you're giving a lecture on film you generally want to do. He'd mutter that time was too short to run a film clip, and I'd hear groans from the audience, people who had reached the age where they don't give a shit anymore if they're polite. During the Q&A there was a minor revolt where someone demanded he show a clip from Mean Streets: "Show something with DeNiro in it!" The lecturer grudgingly did -- a clip about religion.
There's one more course left in the American Directors series, covering Tarantino and Kubrick. I hate Tarantino's films. Kubrick is my #2 favorite. I'm torn about whether or not to go.
I'm probably busy that day anyway.