Still on that Pile of “Stuff”: Stanford Magazine, Sept/Oct 2013

Today, self decided to discontinue her subscription to Condé Nast Traveler.  Why?  Because the articles are geared towards very rich people, but are mostly written by writers who are a lot poorer than the people who actually may end up taking the tours.  Self has been aware of this for at least 2 – 3 years.  But she put off ending her subscription because she was enchanted by the contributing writers, who very often were writers she respected (like Linh Dinh, who is from Vietnam and who she first met in Berlin, in 2005)

She also decided to catch the first screening of “Captain Phillips” at the downtown Redwood City Century 20.  It was 11:30 a.m. There were more people than she expected there to be, at such a time of the morning, on a weekday.  She found parking right away, in front of Pamplemousse.  She liked the movie.  It was directed by Paul Greengrass.  Has there been any Paul Greengrass movie she’s disliked?  Come to think of it, no.  She thought the shaky-cam was pretty effective here in simulating the rocking of the kidnappers’ skiffs and the lifeboat on which they (with Captain Phillips as a hostage) try and make their escape.  In the end (and we all know there is only one way for this to end, because Tom Hanks’ characters almost never die), self liked Tom Hanks’s performance.  He keeps everything muted, low-key.  This is how she pictured Captain Phillips to be like (in her head, when the story first broke).  Another thing: the movie makes clear that despite the enormous technological superiority of the U.S. Navy, the outcome could have been disastrous if not for a fortuitous combination of happenstance (Captain Phillips, for one, was an enormous practical advantage for the Navy: At least as portrayed in the movie, he was clever and kept his head) and pluck (Captain Phillips’ crew, after taking back control of their ship, decided to follow the lifeboat, keeping it always in view until the Navy arrived, which self thinks must have contributed to the pressure on the Somali pirates to negotiate).  The shooting of the pirates appears almost anti-climactic.  After it happens, the movie ends rather quickly.  Which is a good thing.  Because the thing to remember is not the outcome, but how everything involved balancing on a knife edge of terror and aggression.  Wits saved the day, not firepower.

So, here is self at the end of her day.  She and The Man have had dinner, and the washing machine is running.  The backyard deck is empty.  Bella’s water dish is full.  Her pillows are scattered all around the garden.  Her funeral is next weekend, on Saturday the 26th.

One of the things she pulled out of her “Pile of Stuff” yesterday was the Stanford Magazine of September/October 2013.  Flipping through the articles, she came across a piece about Stanford psychiatrist David D. Burns.  For 10 years, Burns has led the Tuesday Night Group, “an informal weekly gathering of medical students, residents, and local therapists.”  Burns is a therapist to the therapists.  He knows many therapists are themselves prone to depression, especially if they have spent years treating patients who display no measurable signs of improvement.  Therapists, it turns out, can be just as gullible and easy to manipulate as ordinary people (So why do we need therapists?  Good question!  Self has no asnwer for that one)

Here are excerpts from the article:

“Therapists falsely believe that their impression or gut instinct about what the patient is feeling is accurate,” says May, when in fact their accuracy is very low.  “I haven’t met anyone yet who can read minds.”

Burns says most therapists “believe they are aware of how their patients are feeling at least half the time.”  He “quickly disabuses them, citing his own and other research showing only a 10 percent overlap between how a patient says he is feeling and how the therapist thinks the patient is feeling.” This is of course a “huge margin of error.”  Burns asks his patients to keep “a daily mood log, a two-page form on which patients record the negative thoughts and emotions they experienced after an upsetting event.  In addition to rating the intensity of their emotions on a numerical scale, they must also write down what therapists call cognitive distortions — such as catastrophizing (expecting only the worst to happen), emotional reasoning (believing, for example, that if we feel stupid, then we must be stupid), or mind reading (assuming that what we imagine other people are thinking is what they actually think).

Hmm, this is truly a fascinating article on Monsieur Burns, dear blog readers!  Self will stop blogging so that she can keep reading.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

About “Angels & Demons”

As self’s Dear Departed Dad used to say, If you can’t say anything good . . .

Tom Hanks plays a Harvard professor.  Which means he can do anything.  Still, self would just like to know where a Harvard professor gets off telling Roman carabinieri what to do.  And why a Harvard professor doesn’t know that when handling priceless archival documents, one should always wear gloves.  And why, anyway, would a Harvard professor be doing laps in a pool at 5 a.m.?  Not that she has anything against Harvard professors (some of them may even be hunks), or that she minds seeing Tom Hanks in swimming trunks (bod, or what she could see of it anyway, still OK), but the “swimming at 5 a.m. thing” was a little much, self feels, even if it was there just to establish that this professor, despite being a member of academia, is indeed a very very virile guy.  Which is absolutely essential to the veracity of the plot, considering the number of things Hanks’ character is required to do later.  But, self digresses.

An even bigger outrage is what the movie does to Ewan McGregor.  Ewan McGregor, perhaps one of the finest actors of his generation (here playing the hottest priest in cinematic history), is in this movie reduced to —  to —

AAARGGGGH!!!!  Self can’t say because then she’ll be giving the whole movie away!

(Ewan, self is so confused.  Did you accept this role just for the money?  And why did you still have that Scottish accent, even though your Dad was supposedly Irish and you told Tom Hanks you were adopted by a Cardinal at the age of 9 and had lived most of your life in Italy?  And, didn’t you see what the last movie did to Paul Bettany’s career?  Self hasn’t seen him in a movie since he was last seen playing a self-flagellating albino monk/assassin in the execrable The Da Vinci Code!)

Self can’t believe she sat for two hours in a theatre watching @##!!@@##

Afterwards, hubby declared it was very, very good.  Which shows you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it —

This was absolutely the worst movie self has seen this year, last year, or — or since she saw The Da Vinci Code.  There, she’s said it.  Sorry, Dear Departed Dad!

Counting yesterday’s Terminator:  Salvation, that makes two strike-outs in one weekend.  It’s enough to drive a person nuts.  Or, at least, back into the arms of J. J. Abrams and co. This week, Star Trek again, for sure.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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