Thursday, February 25, 2010

Facebook Unfriending and Psychics

Yeah, I’ve unfriended a couple facebook "friends".

One was this porn star, who I never met and have no idea who he was, and was very young and very cute, but he posted several times an hour to vote for him in some porn contest. I got tired of seeing the endless propaganda, even though he was cute. I eventually wrote to him and said, perhaps you truly are the best bottom of the year, but I would never vote for someone who was obviously so desperate for votes. Then I quietly unfriended him.

It’s quite possible he deserved the, uhh, position (I have no idea if he won or not), perhaps it is my polite Canadian upbringing but I believe in the power of attraction rather than pummeling someone over the head with narcissitic self promotion.

Which helps to explain why I have been in LA for twenty years and why I am still not famous and my blog readership numbers in the low hundreds as opposed to the virtual thousands (or millions out there, if you happen to be Ashton Kutcher).

I’ve been unfriended a couple times. Probably more than a few times, but I don’t keep track, and as far as I know, there’s no way to keep track of how many friends you had yesterday as opposed to how many you have today, and who is missing. I have about 500 friends, and of those, I’ve never met about 480 of them. So they can come and go and I probably would never notice.

I noticed when my wife (now ex-wife) unfriended me. It didn’t come as a surprise, really.

I have another friend, more of a professional friend as opposed to a 'lets go to the movies' friend, who I’ve known for a few years. She is a psychic and I have visited her several times. I’ve always thought we got along really well and her advice, for the most part, was shockingly and consistently spot on. I even referred several friends (including my Mom) and they all raved about how wonderful and accurate she is.

Now, I suppose, like any professional, she likes what she does and she’s good at what she does. And part of being in a nurturing profession is to make people feel like they are being nurtured. I have several clients who, at least I hope, no, I know they feel loved and supported. Usually because, well, I am a nice guy first of all. But before I meet anyone, especially before I go into their house, I do a prayer and meditation, to be present, to be safe, to be nurturing, to see this person as the beautiful innocent child of god that they were created as, and thus remain, Despite any apparent evidence that seems to contradict this.

I’ve had clients who have become overly familiar, or reliant on me, or wanting more. More than I am willing to give. Sometimes I wish I were a better actor, sometimes I think I am too good of an actor.

As Marianne Williamson said last night, every person in front of you is a lesson for you (and for them). Although sometimes the lesson is to know that you need to leave.

So this psychic I’ve seen several times. Our sessions are always lengthy and emotionally intimate. Not that I necessarily wanted to go out dancing with her, (although I’m sure she would be fun), but with all the information we shared I suppose it made me feel closer to her than I truly am.

I suppose when I am massaging and touching someone over their entire body, that’s pretty intimate. I suppose it’s only natural to feel something.

Although, truthfully, I have had clients that I felt something for, and I have had clients that turned out to be more than clients. I mean, I’m not a therapist, there isn’t a really clear legal line that can’t be crossed here.

Now, I’m always a little anxious with psychics. I am always trying to develop my own spiritual abilities, and am anxious of people that are well ahead of me on the curve. I wish I understood people better.

So I’m always wondering, when in the presence of a true psychic, how much they are getting from me. How much do they really know? Are they getting information that they can use? Are they getting information that they don’t want to tell me?

Are they getting information that tells them under no circumstances befriend this person on facebook.

Now, when I joined facebook a few years ago I inadvertently asked everyone in my address book to be my friend. It’s far too easy and they make it seem so innocuous, you hit one button and suddenly you’re out there in the world. Several people wrote to me and said they weren’t on facebook (many of them have since come around).

My therapist was in my address book and he wrote to me and said he didn’t want to facebook any of his clients, which is perfectly reasonable.

My trainer told me that he had hundreds of friend requests pending but he hadn’t accepted anyone, and to not take it personally. (I’m not quite sure I understand that modus operandi, honestly)

But my psychic signed on as my friend. Every now and then I would see a post from her about her vacation, her relatives, her love life.

Sometimes I post several times a day, sometimes a week will go by without any facebook news from my homestead in the hills of Silver Lake. I do want to be out there (further than, say my trainer) but I don’t want to be obnoxious (like, say that porn star guy).

I do have a somewhat offbeat sense of life sometimes, perhaps my facebook posts are sometimes a little quirky. Perhaps of my 500 virtual facebook pals, 480 of them have clicked on “don’t show me posts from this guy any more” button. And no one is actually reading them. (I know some people do read them because occasionally they respond).

So if my psychic friend was offended by my endless posts about Channing Tatum (which, knowing her, if I do know her that is, she most certainly wouldn’t be) or she grew tired of my quirky observations on society and culture, or she took one of my Course in Miracles quotes the wrong way.

Or she got tired of seeing pictures of my cat, Sebastian.

Or MAYBE she knows something about me that I don’t know. Or that I do know but it was too much for her to talk about. Maybe she knows that the ship is about to sink and doesn’t want to get sucked down by the undertow.

Maybe she was getting bad karmic energy from being my virtual friend.

Maybe she was simply weeding down her list of friends and I didn’t make the cut. Maybe I was in the bubble, on the cusp, and maybe she had a real struggle cutting me loose, but ultimately just bit her lip and hit the delete key.

Maybe she decided to be friends with my ex-wife instead of me. Although, considering the conversations we have shared over the years, I seriously doubt that.

Honestly, I don’t know what to think.

I know, I think too much...

Rod Reynolds

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dear Channing, I mean Dear John

Friday night, rainy, cold. Very rainy. I had no clients. Lots of work to do, as always, but no clients and didn’t think I’d get any. When it rains in LA the city shuts down. It’s like a snow day in the Midwest.

I had a pass to see 'Dear John'. I like Amanda Seyfried from the ABBA movie, 'Mamma Mia' and I like her upcoming movie 'Letters to Juliet', which I saw a test screening a few months ago. And it is directed by Lasse Hallström, the director of ABBA the Movie (and several dozen ABBA videos). So I’m interested.

But no, Dear John is all about the boy. Channing Tatum. I’d read one review that said the movie was terrible, but that the director knew what he had, and showed Tatum either shirtless or in a t-shirt throughout the movie.

I'm in.

Oh, I am so cheap.

But knowing it is half the battle. Besides, I can quit any time.

So, it’s raining, it’s cold, it’s late Friday night, I get to the theatre in Glendale, and the ticket girl says, Oh, I’m sorry, that showing is sold out. I can get you into the 10:30 show.

Sold out? BBb-bbut it’s raining ? !

AND it’s a B movie chick flick!

I said, there isn’t one seat available?

She looked at her screen, and pondered, “yeah, you can likely find one seat, but it will probably be the worst seat in the theatre.

I looked at the marquee listing the 16 movies currently playing, I had seen all of the ones I was even remotely interested in, some of them several times over. So I said, ‘OK, give me the ticket and if I can’t find a seat I will come back and get a ticket to the later show.‘

So I went in, down the hall and rounded the corner into the theatre.

It was PACKED.

Packed with girls.

And when I say girls, I mean like maybe 16 years old. I don’t know. They all look so young. It’s hard to tell these days because young women dress a lot ‘older’ than they did when I was 16.

I found a seat, quite a decent seat, actually, (with a good view because everyone else in the theatre was under 5’ 2”) and settled in, prepared to see a horrible movie with some hopefully great man candy.

Which is pretty much exactly what it was. Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. So that says all you need to know. The two main characters are introduced in the first scene, they are attached to others, but those relationships are faltering. The attraction is instant. They get together against logic. Then they get separated (in this case Tatum is in the army or something and gets shipped off to Afghanistan or somewhere.) So they write letters back and forth until they can get back together.

My suspension of disbelief was strained when the screen showed Tatum writing in perfect script, these really intense and longing letters. But I decided to play along.

It doesn’t all go smoothly of course. There is lots of drama, lots of tears, lots of kissing, even a couple fist fights.

OK, more importantly, Tatum is indeed shirtless several times in the film. The first time we see him, at the beach (always a good idea), surf board in hand. The girls in the audience screamed. Literally.

Seyfried accidentally drops her purse off the dock, and Tatum dives into the ocean, down to the bottom, and rescues her handbag. He comes back up the beach, his perfect body (trim but not overly worked out so still accessible - take a lesson, Taylor Lautner) dripping wet, his shorts sliding down, barely hanging on his perfect hips.

OK, to me, already worth the price of admission.

And by that I mean the hassle, not the actual dollar amount.

Then when Tatum and Seyfried first kiss, the girls in the theatre swooned. Literally. Later, when the camera dollies in in anticipation of their first kiss, the girl beside me had her hands on her face and was squirming in her seat and moaning. I’m not kidding. I was looking at her out of the corner of her eye, not wanting to disturb the subject, as she was often more animated than the actual movie.

Not to mention, to me, a sociological profundity.

At one point, something bad happens and the lovers are separated. I looked over and she was crying. Later on they break up. She was sobbing, and muttering under her breath.

I was watching her, and wondering if she’d seriously ever seen a movie before. Aside from the Twilight series, obviously.

I mean, every movie cliché in the book was unfolding on the screen exactly as you would anticipate. But this girl, and seemingly every other girl in the theatre, was on an emotional roller coaster. I’m sure if she were of legal drinking age, there would be cosmopolitans around the table later with her three best friends.

I must admit the movie looked fabulous, and was directed in accordance with romantic drama protocol, and the story unfolded exactly as any Film 101 student could predict from watching the trailer. I admired the director’s restraint with the ending, and not drawing it out. I mean, right from the opening five minutes you can tell how it’s going to pan out. Even from the movie poster itself you can tell how the movie is going to end. So when it finally gets to that point, Hallström wisely felt it needed no explanation, and the ending is one brief, almost teaser scene with no dialogue. Stunning lighting, but not a word. To me, it said all you need to know.

But, as the credits started to roll, the girl beside me sat up and said, quite loudly, That’s IT? That’s the end?

She actually seemed quite upset.

But possibly, in retrospect, not at how the movie ended but that it had to end at all. And unlike the Twilight series, there is no blatantly obvious sequel in the pipeline. Although now that it beat Avatar last weekend at the box office, there may well be a sequel.

Because that girl sitting beside me in the theatre on a cold, rainy Friday night in Glendale, and from my viewpoint, most of the similarly aged and similarly gendered viewers quite enjoyed the movie.

As did I, but for entirely different reasons.

Los Angeles

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mel Gibson - older, yes. faded, no.

In yesterday’s LA Times (Feb 1, 2010) Ben Fritz writes:

"Mel Gibson still has his fans, but after a long and controversial absence from the big screen, his overall appeal seems to have faded. The thriller, 'Edge of Darkness', which marked Mel Gibson’s first lead role since 2002’s 'Signs', opened to a fine but not fantastic $17.1 million."

(read his full blog here)

I have been a Mel Gibson fan since I first saw ‘Road Warrior’ while attending film school in 1982. I have seen all his movies since; bought them all on VHS, then again on laserdisc, then again on DVD. Some I love: 'Signs' is one of my all-time favorite movies, a film that is so flavored and nuanced I never tire of watching it.

'Conspiracy Theory' (with Julia Roberts) is consistently cited (by me) as one of the most under-rated performances of his career; he is simply outstanding. ‘What Women Want’ (with Helen Hunt) is a clever romantic comedy that I have watched several times over. Gibson is remarkably funny and consistently charming.

Others I don’t care for (I have never been able to make it all the way through 'Braveheart') but I have seen them all, including the ones that he directed but did not appear in. While I did not particularly enjoy the violence in the 'Passion of Christ', I could not help but admire the film on several artistic levels.

Through the recent public events surrounding his personal life, it seems unlikely that we would be friends (I am in more than one of those groups that he has voiced objections to), but who knows. We've never been in the same room and had a conversation. Although that is a little disappointing, ultimately it doesn’t affect my enjoyment of his movies.

In 1985 I had the cover for People Magazine’s 'Sexiest Man Alive' (he was the original) framed and hanging on my wall through several moves and several cities over nearly twenty years (it eventually suffered a fatal accident and had to be thrown out, otherwise I would still have it.)

To me, Mel Gibson has not lost his appeal and I would go see any movie with him in it. And buy the DVD when it comes out. Even when he is merely voicing an animated character (ie ''Chicken Run', which would be a hilarious movie with or without voice over Gibson's contributions).

Having seen the trailers for 'Edge of Darkness', I was not the least bit interested in the scenario. I had suffered through 'Taken' starring Liam Neesan (I know it was a big hit, but to me it was unbearably mean) and 'Law Abiding Citizen' starring Gerard Butler (the less said about that the better, in my opinion, except for the cool plot twist and one memorable scene near the end) and was in no mood for a knock off violent revenge movie. But I paid my $12 (plus $14 for snacks at the concession) and hit the theatre on opening night.

Truthfully, I did not enjoy the movie and could not wait for it to be over. To be fair, it was not as emotionally painful as I had imagined, but I must say the movie did nothing to enrich the fabric of my life. A point worth mentioning is that I went by myself; none of my friends would go see this movie with me. Neither because nor despite the presence of Mel Gibson, per se, but because of the violent and vengeful nature of the film itself.

I realize predicting movies box office takes is a cultural event in Los Angeles, but even I didn’t think it would overtake Avatar last weekend at the box office. But I disagree that Mel Gibson’s acting career is over. Clint Eastwood is still going, and he’s in his 70’s.

Los Angeles