Finding Frances

The feature length finale of the Comedy Central series ‘Nathan For You’ takes an amazing melancholy turn, when Nathan decides to use the show’s resources to find Bill Heath’s (the Bill Gates impersonator from previous episodes) long lost love.

Though still full of the same comedic flavor that Nathan is famous for, this is a heart wrenching documentary about a man that could not let go of the past.

Bill, now 76 years old, never married, and never had children, has spent his life always wondering what happened to his young love Frances, last seen over 50 years ago. Though it is never stated directly, it is implied that he never married or had children because he was always hoping to find her. Early in the episode we get many clips of him reminiscing about her, always saying ‘I should have married her.’

Nathan takes it on himself to help Bill find Frances, using ridiculous, roundabout tactics that will be familiar to fans of the show. But always present between the comedy is a thick vein of longing, and it will creep under your skin and leave your heart aching.

What kind of love must one feel to still wonder about someone from half a century past? What kind of emotions could prevent a person from moving on after so much time? The relationship of Bill and Frances is startlingly similar to that of Florintino and Fermina in Love in the Time of Cholera, except, as we find out during a heart squeezing scene where Bill reads through a box of old letters–Bill left Frances to pursue his career in acting, and regretted it ever since.

I won’t spoil the end, but as the episode progresses and Nathan finds more and more information about Frances, it becomes clear that Bill has held some kind of frozen image of her in his mind, a version of her trapped in amber and unchanging as the decades rolled by.

Is this how all love works? A first impression of overwhelming emotion seared into the brain, unable to be overwritten no matter what else happens with or because of that person. Do we have any choice but to cling to that moment when everything was perfect and amazing, despite all that has changed? That irrationality and inability to accept change–or even perceive it in some cases–is part of what makes us human…

The end of this episode left me with a surreal feeling of the gulf of time that can separate two people–a feeling of melancholy for the past, like opening a time capsule full of childhood mementos, or finding an old love letter in your attic.

This episode was better produced, and miles more meaningful than 90% of Hollywood movies today. Even if you’re not familiar with the show, and don’t care for absurdist/awkward comedy– I would recommend watching this episode. It is heartfelt, real, and peeks at some secret aspect of being human that hides within all of us.

The Orville, Episode 9

In another somewhat dull episode of The Orville, all the crew members fall in love with each other. This one was more focused on humor and relationship stuff than real adventure or thoughtful things.

The blue alien that Kelly cheated on Ed with ends up on the ship as a forensic archaeologist, to determine which of two warring species has a true ancestral claim to a contested planet. While he’s on the ship, his hormones cause anyone he touches to fall in love with him–or anyone else he’s touched.

It was fun seeing Captain Mercer go all gaga for the guy he hated just moments ago, and the slime blob sex scene was interesting/messed up. But, there wasn’t much thought provoking–and yes I know it’s a comedy show, but it’s gotten its self a reputation to upkeep in my eyes!

Using the love pheramones to resolve the thousands of years old dispute was obvious and also silly. Though it was humorous seeing those two previously enraged enemies holding hands and googoo eyeing like teenage lovers, in reality after a few days when it wears off they’ll be even more pissed at each-other that it happened at all.

Still better than Discovery, though.

Starting at the action

I’m listening to Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and the first sentence is him waking up as a giant insect. This is how stories should be told.

So many other writers, amateur or not, would write however many thousands of words about the day before it happened–but why waste time getting there? Since the story is about him as this creature, that’s where we start.

I love how to-the-point it is, with all aspects. Something to consider in my own writing…

Too many books for patience

I started listening to Remains of the Day by the new winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Kazuo Ishiguro. After 15 minutes of nothing happening, and multiple restarts cause I zoned out thinking about something else, I gave up and returned it.

I know I have criticized today’s people for having no patience, for wanting explosions on page one, for having no palate for subtlety… but, just because I don’t need something exploding on the first page doesn’t mean I can do without it being intriguing on the first page, or beautiful on the first page.

There are a million books out there, and thousands of best selling, highly rated, amazing ones that everyone should read in their lifetime. And I can’t read all of them. There just isn’t enough time.

No matter how many books I read, there will be life-changing, mind-expanding, soul-brightening novels I will never get to enjoy–never even be aware that I missed out on.

So if something isn’t grabbing me by the heart or mind or soul or throat after the first few pages, then I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to waste on it.

Thanks for existence, universe!

I’m thankful to exist, to be able to experience pleasure and thought and excitement and wonder, and even to experience sadness and longing and melancholy–because these are all things, all flavors of the world that mix together to make the meal of life.

I’m thankful I can write without pain, and think without pain, and am grateful for every minute that I can.

I’m thankful I was born in such a place and raised in such a way that I turned out as me.

I’m thankful to live in a society with free access to information, and in a time where anyone can learn anything they want if they work at it hard enough.

I’m thankful that I’ve got imagination, intuition and improvisation skills.

I’m thankful for my wife and cat and family and friends!

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

Reading this was a bit of a wake-up call to how vapid and soulless(hehe) vampire movies and books are today.

Dorian Gray, in a fit of youthful exuberance, trades his soul for endless youth, and gets more than he expected.

Not only does time not affect him in any noticeable way on the exterior, nothing seems to affect him in any way on the inside either. At the start, he frets that the death of his love, Sybil, is not affecting him as much as it should. Later, all his possessions and pleasures do nothing to make him feel complete. The vampires and immortal beings of modern storytelling have no drawbacks (sun doesn’t even hurt them!) making them boring and un intriguing.

This is a great story about how we obsess over youth and beauty at all costs, and an interesting look at the costs of a life without feeling or soul. What is it that causes aging, anyway, besides the scars of our experiences? If none of our experiences affected us, life would be an empty, perfect, shell…

Enjoyable and thoughtful read.

Random Game of Thrones thoughts

I really wish Jon Snow would have stayed dead.

All the rumors and articles and talk of him coming back made it into an expected, taken for granted event. There was no tension, no curiosity. And it undercut the power of his death, which was a nice mirror of his father’s death. His coming back so quickly and easily, and with no consequence to anyone, sucked.

I would have been thrilled and cheering if the red woman’s spell did nothing, and they cut to a pyre. That is the kind of subversion I expect from GRR.

But the show has lost its ‘anyone is at risk, anything can happen’ tension. Jon is an invincible Mary Sue. He should have died at the battle of the bastards. He should have died trapped on the ice with the zombies. He should have died when he fell through the ice. It is getting tiring.