Sadness

From the news: A killer whale attacked and drowned a trainer at SeaWorld.

A killer whale held in captivity in a pool is sad.

The sequence of the images the trainer rubbing the whale and then the whale attacking the trainer is sad.

Somebody drowning is sad.

Sea parks and zoos are sad. Never liked them, even when I was a kid.

Theme parks, amusement parks and circuses are sad. (Oh, the irony…)

Clowns are sad. And somewhat offensive. It always seems like the exaggerated smile is hiding a vast sadness.

About A Mouse

Note: I found this in my draft blog posts. I wrote it on January 8, but for some reason I never published it. Don’t know why not, but here it is:

Live Journal (LJ) is a website where you can have your journal on-line. It is a quite ugly website, it looks like an ’80s myspace-like webpage for journals. I really don’t care about the journals people post on LJ simply because most people’s journals are quite embarrassing to read. The only reason I write about LJ is that I absolutely love the “communities” section.

A LJ community is a forum for people in the same geographic area or interest group to share news, to ask questions that the community helps find answers to or debate about current issues. You can even post polls or events. I belong to the Davis Square community. Although I technically live in North Cambridge, I live very close to Davis and this is where I mainly hang out. The Davis Square Live Journal (DSLJ) community is great, with updates on what’s going on around the square and the vicinity. The members are quite informed, funny, opinionated, and they can occasionally turn nasty. There are a couple of DSLJ members that are “out there”, there is one member who whenever comments to a post feels compelled to change the subject title, there’s one who’s quite rude and most of them are fairly outspoken. Now, if you post something that sounds or is stupid, the comments are going to be mean. ‘Cause sometimes commenting is far more enjoyable than ignoring. Overall I’m being nice in my comments. But sometimes you read some posts and comments and you think that the community has lost its edge.

This morning I read a post that starts with the line: “Does anyone know of a small animal vet that might be willing to try to help with a neurotic mouse?” Reading on, it appears tha the problem is that this person has a mouse that won’t get off the wheel: the mouse wants to run ALL.THE.FLIPPIN’.TIME. I am chuckling while I’m reading the post and then I reach the last line: “is there anywhere to go to get a prescription for mouse anti-anxiety medication?” To which I have to respond “Are.You.Effin.Kidding.Me?”

Now I’m really curious to read the comments, as I think that this post is an open invitation to  comment nastiness. But no, the responses are quite earnest and they are trying to help and suggest vets and solutions. Somebody asks maybe the “mouse is addicted to running” (yeah, it kinda looks like). Other people suggest medication to which a sane member responds “medication for a mouse? really, that’s where we’re at? really?” Thank you, sane person. Other commentators say that the real problem would be an inactive mouse, but wait, there’s a drug for that! But then this comes up and I think I’m done: “I know an animal psychiatrist that specializes in small rodents but the hourly rate is through the roof.” At that point I don’t know what to think. This looks like a serious comment. A psychiatrist for a mouse that won’t stop running. This is so ridiculous, this is yet another proof that as a society we have lost complete sight of what matters. I mean, I don’t know, maybe I’m just too ignorant when it comes to mouse psychology, but seriously?! Is this what’s important? Is this where our efforts are being directed to?

We humans tend to anthropomorphize animals. We say things like “oh, this animal is cute, this one is ugly.” This person has bought a cage for her mice and is expecting the mice to sit in there still. And when one mouse doesn’t do that, she calls it “neurotic”. What’s next? To buy a mini kitchen and expect the mice to cook?! Mice are born to run. That’s their nature, to constantly run from one place to another. Oh, what a fucking crazy world.

But for me it all comes down to this: “I know an animal psychiatrist that specializes in small rodents but the hourly rate is through the roof.” People will believe in the most crazy things, while being surprisingly adverse to any rational and critical thinking. Actually this is my dream: to find a way to exploit people’s willingness to believe in ANYTHING, and make money. Lots and lots of money, cause you know, my hourly rate is going to be through the roof.

An Ignominious Death

This morning I read this story on BBC News: “‘Son’ held over stabbing of woman, 100, in Whitechapel.  A man believed to be the son of a 100-year-old woman found stabbed to death at her home in east London has been arrested by police.” And for some reason it made me feel particularly sad.

I don’t know this woman. I wouldn’t even touch the fact that her alleged son might be the murderer. But I can tell in 100 years living she has survived two world wars, and must have survived personal tragedies, difficulties and sadness, whose enormity I am absolutely unaware of. I do know that after living for 100 years she’s killed by stabbing. It just doesn’t sound fair. Of course no violent death is fair, but it feels ignominious. I would think that this elderly person would not deserve a violent death. I think that she would deserve a peaceful, natural death. Rest in peace.

“Amor”

Sometimes you watch a movie and you discover something that feels special to you: a cute actor, a funny line, a touching line, an image, a song. I have discovered some great music from watching movies. I like to think that being the soundtrack supervisor for a film would be one of the coolest jobs. I remember a few years back I watched the french film “Comme Une Image” (“Look At Me”.) It was a touching Agnès Jaoui film, sometimes brutal, sometimes funny, sometimes beautiful. It was about this chubby girl who has self confidence issues, but has the gift of a magnificent voice.

What I vividly remember from the film is a scene at an old small church where she & her classmates give a recital. And she sings one of the most touching pieces I have ever heard, “Amor, dicea” from Claudio Monteverdi’s “Lamento della Ninfa“. At that point I didn’t know who was the composer or what the piece was called. But the melody stayed with me. I couldn’t forget it. 

A couple of weeks ago I saw a listing for an upcoming Handel and Haydn Society concert “Zest for Love” at Sanders Theater in Cambridge featuring music by Monteverdi, poetry by Shakespeare. I got instantly excited, “Zest for love, Monteverdi, I’ll be damned if they don’t perform Amor,” I thought. And they did perform it. A classical music concert sounds like a more decent thing to do on a day (February 14) that it’s imperative to celebrate love. I have a problem with this hallmark holiday. I can celebrate love everyday or simply whenever I want, I don’t need anybody to tell me when. But for some people that day is important, and attending the concert was much better than going to an expensive and busy restaurant.

So we spent that Sunday afternoon  listening to the magnificent music of Monteverdi performed by a very good orchestra and chorus. My favorite piece “Amor, dicea” came in at about the middle of the concert. Listening to it live was an amazing experience.  And it wasn’t just a sonic experience; I could feel the music with my whole body. It was moving, it was touching, it was simply beautiful…

Note: You can listen to “Lamento della Ninfa” here; “Amor, dicea”, the second part, starts at 1:34 and is performed by Natalie Dessay.

And Then It Snowed

On Tuesday it snowed. A wet, heavy snow, the kind that makes the best snowballs: heavy and compact, perfect snowballs for that snowball fight…

On Wednesday I strolled along the Mystic River and took this photo from the footbridge at Medford Square. It was pretty, the river didn’t look as murky as it usually does. Maybe I just didn’t notice: the beauty overpowered the ugliness.