while whiling away the time
After my great train debacle I met up the next day with an interesting fella for lunch. He is, perhaps, too interesting for me. A thought which was confirmed by an email fron him saying how nice it was to catch up with "an old friend." Right there, I was slammed right into the Friend Zone. We move onward.
After this lively lunch I met up with CKE and we went to see the movie Ratatoullie. Which is adorable and good fun. Truth be told my anti-rat prejudices were not overcome by this movie. I thought the little chef was adorable but I gotta say that the rat colony cooking scenes made me feel a little queasy. That being said I loved the movie - it had a lot of heart. Plus the character Collette has the haircut that I was trying to get. (didn't quite work out, and I haven't colored it purple yet.)
The movie does have within it a really beautiful little essay:
"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. "
"In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize that only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."
Space Age Laundromat
I found a new Laudromat with a super grumpy proprietor and the most high tech and modern washing machines that I have encountered and right here in my Nabe. I think there is a secret button sequence on them that will turn back time in twenty minute intervals.
I rented the movie and it had some pretty funny moments. The evolution of the Starbucks business plan was pretty funny. Still, I am kinda pissed that in the future everyone is colossally dumb and they are for the most part fat and brownskinned with long hair. Where are the dumb yellow people? And where are the dumb skinny people? And the dumb pale skinned people? And the dumb people with glasses and the dumb people with short hair? I feel somehow slighted by the future.
Picking up old habits
On Sunday I revisited to one of my favorite pastimes. Knitting while watching public affairs programming on PBS. I bought a bunch of yarn and some knitting needles at a stoop sale down the block a few months ago and on Sunday decided to start knitting a really basic sweater. Ended up knitting until 3am while watching several documentaries. One on corruption in the Dade County government. The government was raising all kind of money to build affordable housing in Miami. Money that ended up lining the pockets of shady shady officials, consultants, and contractors. Interestingly, there is finally some afforable housing being built in the area but it is not being built with government money nor is it being done by the private sector. It is being built by Habitat for Humanity.
Also saw a documentary on the effects of the prison industrial complex on a small rural town called Susanville. The documentary makers were trying to make some kind of a connection between the coming of the jails and the decline of the local economy but it didn't seem like they made their case all that well. After all, there are any number of rural towns that are also in economic dire straits with the Walmarts rolling in, the fast food joints providing the only new jobs, and the mill and factory work being lost to automation and outsourcing.
The argument that they can make is that having a prison is not the answer to a community's economic troubles. Which kinda makes sense. Banks hold the things that people value and hopefully appreciate in value. Schools hold kids and hopefully educate them and provide the skills that allow them to be productive. Jails are places where we hold people that are bad. They cost and do not produce. Well, perhaps they produce safety by preventing dangerous people from hurting others. But I think that is an indirect argument to be made.
The toughest stories was about a guy who was sent to jail for 15 months for stealing a can of tuna, a loaf of bread, and some mac and cheese to try and feed his wife and two kids. He had been laid off from his job and they were driving across country so that he could interview for a job. They had money for gas for the trip and nothing else. Like Jean Valjean in Les Mis or something. The story of this family is wrenching starting from his wife and kids waiting for him to get out, to the time spent in Susanville struggling in a economically barren place to get by, keep the family together and make rent while he served out his parole. At one point he has no work, they can't make rent, and the landlady sends a five day eviction notice. Watching his wife break down frightened and at her wits end was so hard. It made me angry to see it on film. Angry that it was happening and a little angry that someone was rolling tape and not putting down the camera and trying to help this woman and give her comfort. I suppose that is the struggle of journalism.
There were so many painful realities and hard choices playing out in people's lives in this movie. Points at which what was happening just made my heart sink.
Also saw most of a documentary about the plan to build a new capital city in Ras al-Khaimah. They were talking about how the region has Free Trade zones in which there are no taxes for businesses and a significant part of the workforce is South Asian. I really know nothing about this area but I do wonder sitting here right now, what a nation gets out of having a Free Trade zone. While I suppose it would create jobs and bring technical expertise into your country it seems risky to me. How does a nation provide services and protection, create and maintain infrastructure, and educate and care for their people without taxes? I suppose there are Libertarians and Free Market gurus out there ready and willing to answer this question for me. "Exactly the point," they might shout with glee.
While dancing with a fella at Splash he said, "you are very good at the game."
I don't even know what he means by that. If he means the dating game he is woefully mistaken or worse even than me.