24 February 2007

The People In Hell Called. They Said Thanks For The Ice Water.

Manchego speaks: Chinga los otros! Soy Manchego,
el luchador mas pequeno y mas feroz de todo del noroeste!
Témame, putos! (NOTE: Manchego's opinions are his own, and
do not reflect the opinions of Dear Gregory, its affiliates, or
the many Dear Gregory-related defense industries.)


As you can see from the picture, my fascination with tiny Mexican wrestlers has not abated. I call this one Manchego, and cobbled him together from a Seahawks bottle koozie, a Jones soda bottle, and a genuino 1/8th scale Mexican wrestler mask from the most Mexican part of the Mexico. A co-worker just returned from Mexico City (or thereabouts - can't be too sure as I wasn't listening) and brought along what at first appeared to be a half-score of tiny severed heads. Imagine my glee when they turned out to be cat-head-sized Mexican luchador masks which he graciously distributed evenly among his fellow man. Such a boon. Most confusing though was the tag sewn inside which read, "To be used as a novelty device only. Not for the prevention of disease or unwanted pregnancy." I think something may have been lost in translation.

There are no Mexican wrestlers in Children of Men, the new movie directed by the excellent Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mama Tambien). And why should there be? Oh, because he's Mexican? Look at you, ya racist! It takes place in 2027 in an England that is in the midst of mass sterility and rampant xenophobia. No one has had a kid in 18 years and illegal immigrants are rounded up like beeves and penned at the roadside while they await deportation. It's a real "feel good" flick along the lines of Pollyanna. I'm lying. But while it is an excellent, excellent film, be forewarned: there is not nearly enough morphine in Canada to offset the feeling of dread and despair that it induces in the viewer - namely me. I loved the film, but I had to go home and cleanse my brain by viewing The Little Mermaid afterward. (No seriously, he did. -Ed.)

And as if that wasn't bleak enough for me, then I had to go and watch Running With Scissors as a follow-up. I thought I was going to be seeing a dark comedy along the lines of The Royal Tennenbaums. What I saw was home movies from our dysfunctional youth. Again - a great film, but oh by the flaming, dyspeptic heart of Baby Jesus was it depressing. If you go see it, make sure you have the suicide prevention line on your cell phone's speed dial. You may need to call them directly from the theater...perhaps even while the film is showing. (Now available on DVD. -Ed.) I'm just going to say ten words about it - ten words that encapsulate that entire film and my entire youth: "Agnes, I want you to make me some Hamburger Helper." Those who have seen the movie will get it.

And no, I'm not going to launch into how much of an emotional quagmire our home life was. After 29 years out of the house and realizing how happy my life is now, it seems pointless. That movie just reminded me of what it was actually like because there were so many parallels. Since the film has a lunatic psychiatrist as a central character, it reminded me of the first psychiatrist I was sent to when I was 17. The guy was a whack job. We were talking about anger and he was telling me how he hit his wife because she deserved it. He even described how satisfying it was to him when her head made a thunk when he threw her against the wall. And for my part I just thought well, he's a psychiatrist isn't he? He has a degree. He must know what he's talking about. But here's the thing. Regardless of how awful it was overall, I have a lot of really happy memories from my childhood, a lot of them having to do with you. And that gives me faith that regardless of how dire the present circumstances may seem, there is always some small bit of joy available if you are attuned to perceive it, even if it is only Chekhovian irony. I learned how to be happy in the midst of my dysfunctional childhood; ergo, it couldn't have been all bad. If it was hell, there must've been some ice water in there somewhere.

Still - have the suicide prevention line and the morphine handy when you watch the movie.

So. Where was I? Oh yeah. This American Life. Speaking of living hells, I just listened to an episode of TAL that was entirely devoted to the life story of Carlton Pearson, the once nationally celebrated evangelist with a congregation of 28,000 who fell from grace (and financial security) when he stopped believing in hell and started preaching a gospel of inclusion. (Yeah, that's right. The self-righteous freaked right the shit out when they heard that homos were going to heaven. -Ed.) Furthermore, he was branded a heretic by his church. Did that stop him? No way, Jesús. But you really gotta hear his story. You can listen to it for free on the TAL website. The salient point of the program for me was when Pearson said the he realized that hell is not a place; hell is what we do to each other.

So on that cheery note, I'm going to go take my aching brain out of my skull and baste it with adorable puppies and kittens before watching My Little Pony and eating ice cream until a rainbow sprays out of my butt.