Monthly Archives: March 2012

On Hold


Everyone at one point or another gets their life put on hold. By that I mean, you get put in a “holding pattern.” Like an aircraft you are just circling around waiting to land. And like an aircraft, you life is “up in the air.”

Getting your life put on hold is common. It can happen for a variety of reasons. Illness, accidents, moving, becoming unemployed, the list can go on and on. These reasons are related only by the fact of their occurrence and the effect they have on your lifestyle…and the pursuit of it.
Getting put on hold can range from being a minor nuisance to a major catastrophe. Minor nuisance examples are being put on hold on the telephone.
Over here whenever you ring a customer service hotline, you almost invariably enter a queue. Apparently, everyone picks the same time to call and complain or get a problem sorted out. When the customer hotline responds to your call, you are immediately informed that you have entered a queue and what your place is in it. While you are waiting the telephone version of Muzak is pumped into your ear. This drone of sometimes classical, sometimes “bubble-gum” pop music is interrupted periodically by a pre-recorded voice. This voice informs you that “Your call is important to us. We will answer your query shortly.” I am sure this is meant to be reassuring and calming. It does neither for me. It does, however, give a much needed break from the “hold” music.
Major catastrophes are a slightly different kettle of fish. These on hold occurrences generally don’t have the sort of time period that can be counted by how far you are in the queue. These on hold periods can last indefinitely. Sometimes for the rest of your life. 
What both of these “on hold” things have in common is that loss of control. They make you feel helpless, and in the case of the more major instances, you feel disoriented. In both cases you might as well be running on a treadmill. Both legs churning furiously, but going nowhere at all. 
In the case of the telephonic on hold, we can at least take comfort in the knowledge that sooner or later, we will actually get to speak to a real person.
In the case of the life on hold? We can always take comfort in the knowledge that at the very least, we don’t have that damn music droning in our ear while we wait to get our life back on track.

Manipulators

 

The world is full of manipulators. We all know at least one, although I think that the figure of “one” is much too low. Unfortunately, manipulators are not easy to recognise. They do not have a sign around their necks stating their intent or (unfortunately) saying “unclean.” But if you look carefully you can spot the signs or signals that these “people” exhibit.It is not easy.

Manipulators always put their “best” face forward. In other words they all “appear” to be sweetness and light on the outside. It is only on further dealings with them that they reveal their “true” nature. If you are lucky, you will catch  on to what they are doing quickly. If you are like most folks, you will not. What true manipulators do best is act one way when dealing with you, but, do the opposite when talking about you or setting you up to take a fall.

For example, I know one such manipulator who likes to present a “picture” of all sweetness and innocence. Butter would not melt in their mouth. This same person also uses words in their vocabulary that would make a twenty-year sailor blush…a lot. This person is very skilled at using smoke and mirrors at deflecting anything that might be misconstrued as “unflattering” by batting their eyelashes and swearing that they could not possibly not be a nice person.

I would like to say that this “two-faced” so-and-so got their comeuppance. Unfortunately that still remains to be seen. Maybe one day they will be found out, but not any time soon, I am thinking. For manipulators are very good at what they do. Manipulating.

They skilfully play one side against the other.

Telling one person one thing, then, completely contradicting themselves to someone else. These manipulators will even do so in print. Easily confident they they will not be caught out they play this game with an adroitness that is almost scary. And more often than not they succeed.

Why? Because all of us who are not manipulators do not want to believe that our fellow man is capable of such chicanery. We all tend to believe the best of the people we meet and greet each day. Until we have been shown the error of our ways, we continue to do so.

If we are lucky enough we can discover who the manipulators are in our lives and sever ties with them.  For that is the only way to deal with this type of person. The answer is to cut off relations of any type. You cannot trust someone who has no qualms at attempting to do you harm to get ahead. If you are fortunate enough to discover who is manipulating you act immediately.

Start cutting.

Incapacity


I have discovered that I do not handle being incapacitated well. You would think I would be quite good at it considering I had back problems for years. But I have gotten used to “living normally” and being relatively pain free. In my defence I will say it is not just being incapacitated that bothers me, it is the addition of the medication and the psychotherapeutic exercises.

I have now been officially “off” work for five weeks. It is beginning to look like it may be another five weeks before I can be declared back to “normal.” So okay, the pain and the inability to walk more than ten feet with out hurting is irritating. But the pain is tiring and unrelenting. This combined with the medication makes me so tired I keep having to have naps. I’m starting to feel like a three year old who cannot go all day without his afternoon nap. Okay Mikie time for your nap, we don’t want you getting overtired and grumpy now do we.

I’m also having to control the urge to panic. Yes, you heard right, panic. I had back pain for years (I believe I’ve mentioned this before), I had learned to live “normally” with the pain via a cocktail of drugs (all legally prescribed) that helped give the illusion that I could do anything I wanted to. I then had the operation that really allowed me to live normally. I haven’t had anything go wrong with my back except for the occasional muscle pain from over-exertion. The initial prognosis is I have nerve damage. I knew that already. I lived with the symptoms for years. I really do not want to go back to the “long term” pain and drugs lifestyle again.

Then we have the hated physiotherapy. I say hated because I had begun to loathe the whole concept before the operation. I had done these “stupid” exercises for years with no sign of improvement to show for it. Yes I know that they really did help in the long-run. They helped me keep flexible and built the muscles up that, through pain, I had let get sloppy. It’s just that all physiotherapy has one thing in common…it hurts. It hurts while you are doing the exercises and it hurts afterword. I know it helps, I just don’t like it.

I haven’t gotten depressed though. I also do not feel sorry for myself. I realise that there are folks out there who have illnesses and maladies so much worse than mine. So I do not complain.

I do grumble.

But grumbling is allowed and necessary, I think. So while I might recognize that I am not good at dealing with incapacity, I will not complain. 

I also have to say a big thank you to Dolan Mayorga for giving me a gentle nudge to start blogging again. So, “Thanks mate!”

Another Blog??

So, here I go. Opening up yet another blogging format. First I just had to try Blogger. Then I had to try Tumblr. Now I am trying WordPress. Why. Do I have a lot to say? Do I have  a lot of ideas rumbling around in my head? Do I feel I have something special to offer anyone who reads these blogs? And of course  most importantly; do I think anyone will even want to read my musings?

Well the answers are: yes, yes, maybe, and I don’t know. I do know that I feel like I have to make up for lost time. I spent a lot of years wanting to write about everything and anything. But writing requires a certain amount of discipline and solitude. Although I will admit that  solitude  is not the most important, I am discovering that with  discipline, I can write just about anywhere. I cannot write “longhand,” so it is a case of “have laptop, will write.” I know it’s not as catchy as “Have gun, will travel” but I can live with that.

The hardest thing to come up with was a title for my many different blogs.  I started with Random Thoughts for a Random World for both my other blogs. Because they are, in essence, the same blog. So far I have been satisfied with writing something on Blogger and then just copying it onto Tumblr. I feel that I can reach twice the amount of people that way.

I think that my WordPress blog will keep the moniker of MikesFilmTalk, mainly so I force myself to write something a bit different from the other blogs. I think I will probably write about films and film related things here just to make things a bit more diverse.

So hello WordPress, let’s see how we get on together. Oh, and I’ll make a small confession. The first film “review” I put on here will be one (like Blue Peter) that I did earlier.

Doors

We all know what doors are. Put in the simplest terms a door is an opening into another area. Going through a door signifies entering or exiting a room or space. It is an act of “going through.” And of course going through a door means you’ve crossed a threshold.Thresholds are very symbolic. Take for example the tradition of “carrying the bride over the threshold,” this last act of the marriage ceremony symbolizes the bride and groom entering their new life together as a couple. The groom, provided he is strong enough, carries the bride through the door. I assume that the groom having to do this symbolizes his having to “carry” (spelt support) the wife throughout their life as a couple. And yes, I agree, that is a very old fashioned chauvinistic way to read it. But considering the amount of time that this custom has been around, I think it is an accurate reading.

In life we are always going over thresholds. Everyday we come to doors and have to make the choice to enter or leave. I am of course talking about metaphysical doors here and not real doors. But I think that these metaphysical doors are more important and life changing than real doors. Don’t get me wrong, going in or out of real doors can be life changing. I am just choosing to talk about the “unreal” doors for the moment.

This talk of entering and exiting doors really equates to the thresholds we encounter everyday in our lives. Crossing these thresholds can result in life changing events. Other times the threshold has no consequence to our lives or our destiny, so we can cross with impunity. Often we cross thresholds, never knowing that we have done so. It is only with the advent of “hind sight” that we can clearly see where we have changed our future.

And sometimes, even with this 20-20 hind sight, we never see the threshold that has altered our perceived future.

Doors come in the guise of many things. New job opportunities, accidents, injuries, marriage, divorce, and of course death.  Some of the doors and their thresholds are allegorical and metaphysical, for example the custom referenced above of the bride and groom. Others are very real like your own front door.

My grandfather used to say that you never knew what was going to happen to you when you went out of your own front door. “You can get run down by a damned bus going to collect your mail!” I think he was right. I think that even if we know where and when these doors are meant to be opened, or conversely closed, we don’t know what the end result will be. When we cross these thresholds our life’s path is still  uncertain.

I think that is how it should be.

If we all knew where we were going to end up, would we still make the trip? I believe that knowing our end destination would spoil our journey and a lot of folks would not even bother to start it. And like Pepe LePew says, “Getting there is half the fun!”

Racism

The word racist is an ugly word. It immediately conjures up images of white robed people burning crosses and hanging black people from trees. No, not a pleasant word at all.

It is also “over-used.” Let me explain.

My heritage is strong Native American. Both sides of my family tree in the not too distant past married “full-blooded” Native Americans. Cherokee on my mothers side and Choctaw on my fathers side. We also have a smattering of Wyandot (goodness knows where that came from). In essence, using the Old West term for it, I am a ‘breed.’

Granted, through the “watering down” process that comes with generational growth, I am only about one-quarter Native American. Not a lot, but enough that the US government uses that as a gauge for handing out benefits. Interestingly, none of my family are eligible. Why? Because our ancestors did not have reservation numbers. The reasons for this I won’t go into here.

So when I fill out the ethnicity forms I always have to pick the “other” box. Because I am not “White Caucasian” and living in the UK, they do not have a box with “mixed” that includes Native American. At any rate I do not think of myself as “white” nor do I think of my self as Native American. I just think of myself as a person.

The same way I think of other people.

But I have had people in the past accuse me of racism. Generally because I am upholding a rule that they do not like. I have said in the past, “I am not racist, the white man slaughtered my ancestors and stole their land, they were forced to live in hellish places and were given numbers that were in most cases tattooed on their bodies. I’ll put my ethnic background against yours any day.” This usually stops the accuser dead in their tracks.

It bothers me though, that people feel the need in this day and age to pull the “racism card.” Yes I know that racism still exists. But people who suffer these out-dated attitudes are ignorant. I don’t just mean academically. All racists maintain that “pure blood-lines” are tantamount to superiority. I think if they were a little more intelligent, they would realise that “pure blood-lines” are practically non-existent.

As for the people who continually throw out the Racist Card. Please stop. Just because you hear something you do not like or feel like you’ve been ignored or even mistreated. Stop for just a moment and see if maybe these things happened because of you personally and not just because of your ancestral background or ethnicity.

Like I said racist is an ugly word. And until we can get people to stop bandying it about, it will continue to blight the English language with it’s ugliness. Let’s try to eradicate this word’s existence by refusing to utilise the word and  its definition.

 

Work

I take metaphorical pen in hand to write this latest blog because of a question that was asked by  Dolan Mayorga. He asked, innocently enough, what I did for a living. I was stumped for an answer. Why?

Well, the organisation I work for has made it against the rules to tell anyone on the “world-wide web” what we do for a living. They don’t even like us using “social web-sites” – so Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and yes this blog, are all considered “taboo.”

Most of us just disregard this disapproval and use all the above mentioned “social sites.” Of course not everyone has a blog or a channel on YouTube, but we all use Facebook at the very least. I have to admit that I told everyone what my job was when I first joined these sites.  I then found out that this was frowned upon…hugely.

I then rushed around all the various sites I belonged to and changed my job status to “civil servant.” I’m sure that my employers don’t even really like that, but, what the hell, it is my job after all.

I must admit that not being able to say what I do for a living does feel a bit mysterious and double-oh-sevenish, but the truth is much more mundane. What makes it even stranger is that Ilike my job and I’m rather proud to be doing it. So it is a little annoying that I can’t tell anyone what I do.

But, I will always have a job. Because people are people and unless a minor miracle happens, they will always behave like people. If you can work out what I do for a living from that statement alone, you are very clever. As for me? If I didn’t already know what my job is, I’d never figure it out.

And if you do figure it out? For God’s sake don’t tell anyone, I’d probably wind up being put through the office shredder.

Zombie

After injuring my back at work over three weeks ago, I am starting to feel a little bit like a zombie. Between the medication and the pain, I have become an almost monosyllabic creature. I rarely say a full sentence. I usually respond to queries and conversational starters with little more than a grunt. I’m not only suffering from almost total anti-social tendencies, but I’m also starting to move a little bit like one of the un-dead.

When I walk, I shamble.

Slowly.

I don’t lift my feet off the floor, I shuffle them. I also lack a lot of fluidity in my movements. If I were to catch a glimpse of myself “walking” down an alleyway at night, I’d flee screaming in the other direction. If I could flee that is.

The only thing I haven’t started doing is developing a taste for human flesh or brains. I do not start drooling uncontrollably when confronted with a “normal” living person.

What I have been doing is playing Modern Warfare 3 almost non-stop. I have not been answering my friends requests to join them in the whole scale slaughter that is MW3. That would require talking and interacting in a real sense versus just anonymously joining a team and indiscriminately shooting anything that moves.  I hope they understand. I am not being anti-social just to be awkward. I am avoiding putting myself into a social situation that would require me to be “fun.” I don’t think I have that in me at the moment.

I am currently saving up all my social graces and my interaction skills for my grab-bag review on Sunday. I am hoping that editing will enable me to come across as normal. Well, as normal as one can be when reviewing Asian Horror cinema.

If all else fails, maybe I can do my new zombie impression.

Jobs

English: Chris rock at the Madagascar 2 premie...
English: Chris rock at the Madagascar 2 premiere in Israel. עברית: כריס רוק בבכורה של מדגסקר 2 בישראל (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The comic Chris Rock does a brilliantly funny routine about jobs versus careers. Chris says, ” When you’ve got a job there’s too much time. When you have a career you don’t have enough time.” “People who have careers need to learn to shut the f**k up around people who have jobs. Don’t let your career make someone else sad!” I love his whole routine about the differences between the two.

It did make me think though. My whole life has been spent doing jobs. When I was younger  I had an idea of what I wanted to do for a career. But that, unfortunately, never panned out. And I have had jobs that, like Chris says, made me shout, “I HATE THIS JOB…I HATE IT!

So what differentiates a job from a career? The definition I hear most folks use is this: “I can’t believe how lucky I am to get paid to do this! I’d do it (what-ever it is) for free!” This is always said by someone who has a career. You know who I mean; actors, musicians, writers, etc. I have never heard someone who has a job say this. By job I mean; street sweepers, meat packers, factory workers, et al.

But not everyone has the same idea of what defines a job or a career. I personally think the main difference between the two deals with passion. Most people work jobs that they loathe, just so they have the money to (besides taking care of their basic needs) indulge their passions. At the risk of sounding like a school ma-arm I will go ahead a call these passions hobbies.

Most people have hobbies. Whether they collect stamps, train-spot, or bird watch these folks all share a common feeling. A passion for their hobby. Most of us have to live our lives working jobs that enable us to indulge our passions. A select few have  been lucky enough to get paid to ‘work’ at their hobbies.

So while it is irritating to not have the privilege of getting paid for our passions, we can at least take comfort in knowing that a lot of folks share our fate. And like the old saying goes, “Misery loves company.”