The Theory of Chaos

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Baby Steps

This big thank-you goes out to Monkeygirl. Recently her new chiropractor made a startlingly practical suggestion for dealing with the pain in her arm. Knowing that I’ve been in various stages of distress and agony along my right arm for at least a year, Monkeygirl passed it along to me.

It’s as simple as this: don’t spend more than twenty minutes at a pop on the computer. Work in small chunks and take breaks. It’s not a cure, but it does reduce the stress.

I’ve spent a couple of days practicing this and it’s an honest blessing, not just for keeping the arm out of its worst state, but for focusing my brain on writing. I already knew that I work best in 20-minute chunks, before my thoughts disperse too widely and my mind turns into a cloud again. Having a physically-based excuse to pull myself away turns out to be just enough to overpower that guilt motivator that keeps me shackled to the desk for hours, unproductively web-surfing and hoping that any minute I’ll summon the willpower to open the damned script file already.

It’s no coinkydink that this is my third consecutive day with a journal post up.

So I work a chunk, then divert myself. Do laundry, fix a snack, watch TV. Pre-recorded half-hour shows are ideal. I don’t play video games, I’ve come to the conclusion that they do something to my brain waves that isn’t conducive to writing. I save the games for when I know I won’t have another session for awhile.

And the words are coming – I’m closing in on finishing a re-write I’ve been meaning to do for years. I finish the day with a sense of accomplishment and I waste less time.

Now if only I didn’t have to shuffle off to the old day job.

Last Movie I Saw
: Let’s give this feature a try. On any entry that’s not a dedicated feature (a movie review or travel blog or the like), I’ll mention the last movie I watched that I’d never seen before. You’ll tell me if you like it, won’t you Jimmy?

The Last Movie I Saw was
Killer’s Kiss, legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s second feature film and the first to receive significant national distribution. Shot guerilla-style with no permits on the streets of New York for about $75,000, it’s a minimalist B-Noir thriller about a boxer who intervenes when a dance hall girl’s abusive boss develops a psychotic fixation on her. It’s the last time Kubrick shot a movie based on an original story, and you can almost see why, it’s pretty threadbare and has a tendency to wander off down tangents. During the climax, where the two men brawl in a mannequin factory with a wildly swinging ax, Kubrick is either padding his running time (the movie clocks an anorexic 67 minutes), or this is the first whisper of the misanthropic streak that would come to dominate his aesthetic. The fight goes on so sweatingly, desperately, uselessly long that you can’t help but imagine the old nut laughing at the spectacle of it.

And while the photography (he shot and edited it himself) is starkly beautiful, his inability at the time to set up shots to conceal microphones meant that the entire film had to be dubbed in post-production, which takes the already amateur acting back a further notch or two. I’m glad I watched it for curiosity’s sake, and it helps to remember that even a genius takes a misstep or two early on. Plus, its poster has an all-time corker in the history of breathless matinee come-ons: “
Her Soft Mouth Was the Road to Sin-Smeared Violence!

They don’t pitch ‘em like that anymore.


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