Monthly Archives: June 2008

What is it about robots?

One way in which my dad and I are alike is that we both love to go to movies. In fact, growing up, I remember us as going to see a movie and then out to dinner every Friday night. I’m sure we really didn’t go every Friday, but enough so that’s what my memory is. He’s always liked to see whatever the newest, hottest movie is the weekend (if not the first night) it opens.

I do too. The first / midnight showing if possible.

wall-eWhen the first Star Wars film came out in May of 1977, my family went on the opening Friday afternoon. Or rather, we would have gone except that when we got to our local San Diego theater, it was already sold out. My mother suggested we pick another film. My dad had another idea. He bundled us all into the car, went over to a pay phone and made a call. When he came back, he announced that we were going to get an early dinner at McDonald’s (a huge treat in itself as we rarely had fast food) and then we were driving to Palm Springs for their evening show. The manager had apparently promised to set aside 4 tickets (and besides hardly anyone was in Palm Springs in May). So we drove an hour and a half to another city just so we could see this great new thing. It was great too.

I mention it not just to point out why I love film and take it seriously, but because I fell in love that day. Unlike so many of my friends, it wasn’t with Han Solo either. I fell in love with R2-D2. So much so that it’s hard for me to feel menaced by the Doctor Who Daleks. After all, they do have the same sci-fi I’m-a-robot-not-a-trash-bin look about them. Part of me is still in love with him and was even pleased that in his more recent incarnations he’s been able to fly. (Why “he” is male is yet another question, but perhaps one for another blog entry).

With all this in mind, I’m very pleased that Pixar has created another film robot to fall in love with. His (and it appears clear that “his” is the correct gender) name is WALL-E ( for Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth Class) and he’s a great character. The film, also called WALL-E is delightful too.

Paul told me before we went that it was being hailed as “the best” film Pixar has ever done. That’s setting the bar pretty high as far as I’m concerned as both The Incredibles and Monsters Inc. are amazingly good. After seeing it this afternoon in a (warning: celebrity sighting alert*) Westwood audience that included Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Guest and their children, I do think it’s a unique Pixar film. Why? Because it doesn’t rely on voice acting to carry the story– in fact there’s very little dialog for much of the film. The animation has to carry the emotional weight of the story, and it does it beautifully.

Maybe that’s a reason (other than his basic cuteness) that WALL-E reminds me R2-D2. Neither robot can speak, yet they manage to convey enough emotion and goodness that as a viewer I became completely attached. Oh yes. They also both manage to save the world.

Okay, R2 helped save the universe, but you know what I mean.


* Before you ask, no I didn’t go over and talk to them or ask for autographs. This is Los Angeles and that sort of thing just isn’t done. Especially when famous people are somewhere with their family. That said, this is as least the 6th time I’ve run into Jaime Lee Curtis in Los Angeles or Santa Monica over the years which is definitely more than any other Hollywood person that I don’t actually know. Weird.

Tired of Talking About Me

I should qualify that title statement a bit — don’t get me wrong.  I find myself utterly fascinating.  After all, I spend a lot of time with me.  I write about me (what else is blogging after all?).  I sometimes meet friends for coffee and talk about myself at least some of the time (at least during the time we’re not talking about their children).

So what do I mean?

Basically I’m complaining about having to go to the doctor.  Or rather, about going to doctors for the first time.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist.  He’s great — I like him a lot.  But he’s not a long term therapist.  Rather, he’s the one who’s diagnosed me (bipolar I with anxiety disorder in case you’re keeping track) and keeps track of my lithium dosage and blood readings.*  Anyway, he’s been great and wants me to find a therapist.  Ever the obedient patient, I determined to do as told.

However, rather than just taking a referral, I decided it would be far easier to use the student counseling services on campus.  This would mean, thought I, that I could just go to therapy once a week on my lunch hour.  So I made an appointment (explaining the situation on the phone to the intake person), filled out yet another pile o’ forms with statements about my feelings, past treatments, family history and the like.  When I got to the office yesterday, I was met with yet another pile of forms.  This is a university and I work here so I knew better than to argue.  I just filled the damn things out out and turned them in.

My next step was a meeting with Rebecca, a graduate psych student doing clinical practice (like, she’d be practicing on me).  That’s cool, she seemed nice enough.  We went through 45 minutes of discussion about why I was there, questions about my history, my goals and then my feelings.  I had no thoughts for her on my feelings — I felt fine (other than being a little hungry due to the lack of lunch). 

Then she started talking in that very gentle, I-hope-you’re-not-going-to-be-angry-or-melt-down way.  Rebecca told me she wanted to refer me off campus to a counseling psychiatrist or psychologist.  That the center now had a policy of only doing 12 sessions with any student in a given year and she felt I’d be better off with someone who I could see in an on-going fashion without needing to worry about running into the that limit.   Plus, since I have a medical diagnosis of a specific disorder, there would be no problem with insurance coverage even off campus.  As I listened, I wasn’t in danger of melting down, but my first thought was "damn, I so don’t want to introduce myself again."

There’s nothing for it of course.  She’s right — a private therapist is definitely the way to go.  Before anyone says it, I know I’m really fortunate.  I live in Santa Monica where there’s no shortage of mental health professionals and I’ll be able to take my pick.  My insurance coverage as a student is good.  Pablo’s coverage as a university employee is even better.  But even when I’m feeling good, this sort of intake is agony.  I hate talking to strangers**, especially about myself.  Especially about what’s going on in my head, which is my own private domain.  I keep myself feeling safe a lot of times by making sure to let people talk about themselves and not talking about the things that I feel are private and important to me.  I’m not just introverted — most of the time I’m shy too. 

This blog entry is just a little whine, there’s nothing for it and the appointments will have to be made.  I’m just glad that I won’t get the referrals until Thursday.  With the Friday holiday that means the earliest I can even start making appointments is July 7.   

*this is apparently very important as there’s a rather fine line between the therapeutic and toxic blood level of lithium.  Knowing this does not help with my anxiety issues, but the lithium does seem to be a helpful mood stabilizing drug.

**writing to strangers in a blog is apparently a completely different matter.

A Short Story Entry: The Chesterfield

The Craigslist Ad

“86”lx36″dx27″h oxblood leather, excellent condition, $1000″

chesterfieldThe advertisement’s text looked simple.  But the delicious picture, combined with the word “Chesterfield” tipped Annie into a fantasy realm.   Paul, noticing her distraction, asked what she was thinking.

She sent him a link, pointing him to the Craigslist ad.

Then Annie told the story.

A.’s Memory

I remember reading something about a Chesterfield sofa when I was 12 or 13.  I’m not sure where, an anon book, probably one of the BlueMoons.  I didn’t own it – I read it standing in a bookshop, trying to look like I wasn’t reading porn.

There was a scene in the book where a man, an artist I think, punishes a woman, maybe his model.  The man made her bend over the Chesterfield in his study and began to strap her hard.  But the woman wouldn’t or couldn’t stay still.  Her moving distracted him — broke up the image of punishment and submission he wanted to create.  She made his strap fall in the wrong places and leave marks he didn’t intend.

Finally the man stopped.  He left her there, crying and man came back with some of his old ties, tying her down so tightly she couldn’t even lift a foot, let alone get out of position.  Then, when she was utterly helpless, he told her he was beginning the strapping again.  I remember feeling of horror at the strapping starting all over, only this time with her tied so completely.

I loved that.  His beginning again.  Loved that she had to be still, totally and completely controlled.  His lack of mercy a strange mercy in itself.

Their Conversation

A: It’s a beautiful sofa.  The oxblood leather is the color of tramlines.  It reminds me something from a headmaster’s study.

P:  And you as a naughty girl?  You’d definitely be bent over it, gymslip lifted high up, almost over your head.

A:  I could bend over it without a stool, but my bottom wouldn’t be the highest point, unless I was standing on something or my feet were off the floor.

P: Yes, your hands would be tied in front and you’d stand on a stool.

A: So I’d be all stretched out and up on my toes?

P: Yes.  It looks like it would be comfortable enough to live with too.  That’s an important, if secondary, consideration.

A: Yes.  We’ll definitely need to be able to live with it as our sofa.

A: Sorry.   I’m actually still imagining I’m bent over the back of it, wearing my new gymslip, hands tied so I’m all stretched, bottom very high.  I can almost feel you lifting the skirt waaay up on my back, the front riding up too.  Finally feeling you tug my knickers down for a thrashing.  Right?

P: Goodness, what a naughty girl you must have been.  Of course, that’s a good position for inserting a nice big plug, too.

A: ::stunned, embarrassed silence::

Final Nagging Question

Will the seller take less than $1000?