reaping the cost of solitude

Friday, February 16, 2018

Living in the Dust Bowl of "Average" When I Could Truly Be Extraordinary

I feel like if I list all my faults on paper I might overestimate them. Writing has always been an experience in hyperbole for me, never settling for "average", but "great" and "grand". Everything has to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum. It has to be either "the worst" or "the greatest" thing ever.

The above paragraph is an example of me overestimating. Which goes to show just how much I fear being perceived as average. Everything has to be grandiose, and everyone has to pay attention to what I have to say because I do not deal with "average". Whenever something evokes a feeling deep inside me, it has to matter. I am not impressionable enough to think mundane things are great.

But the truth is, I am an average person. Some people who know me through work or my social circles might think I'm a jack of all trades. I can sing. I can dance if I really want to. I can draw. I can write. I can play the guitar. I can play the drums. But I could not do any of those things at an exceptional level. For every talent I have, there's an invisible self-built barrier that forbids me from further improving in those fields. When I set out to learn something, I start with figuring out the basics. Once I do, I create something at least passable to me - and it's over. I am no longer interested in pursuing the next level because I found that at a certain point of learning something, you begin to encounter a steep slope to get to the next level. I never climb that slope. I meander.

I have climbed a few of those steep slopes in the past, but when I get to the next level I feel as if it wasn't worth the effort. When I start to really specialize in something, I have to dedicate all my time on improving those skills, but at the same time I have to abandon the joy of doing all those other things. It's a bargain I'm not excited about. I frown upon the idea of having to give up something just to be a little bit better at doing another thing. It does not sit well with me. So I stop and regress. I crawl back to being the self-satisfied jack of all trades inhabiting the dust bowl of "casual" and "average"- not bothering to muster up enough effort to climb out of it and be extraordinary. I do wish I could be extraordinary someday, but not today I suppose.

Black Panther: Despite Strong Performances it Suffers from Horrible CGI

I just got back from seeing Black Panther, feeling underwhelmed and a bit disappointed. It's a good movie with great characters, but suffered from poor visual effects, poor lighting, and an over-abundance of scenes using green screen.

My biggest problem with the movie is why Marvel didn't just shell out enough cash to film it on location in Africa. I found myself being pulled out of suspended disbelief numerous times when the clearly fake landscape of Wakanda is shown on screen. It was blatantly obvious this was filmed in a studio adorned with blue and green screens and I found myself glancing at other people in the theater wondering if anyone bought it. Wakanda itself is a confusing mess and not fully realized. My wife pointed out how it's shown as a metropolis at the start, but when battle breaks out, there's suddenly a vast expanse of desert with no skyscrapers to be found.

Anyway, the movie starts out really safe and felt generic at times but picks up once Killmonger sets foot in Wakanda and challenges T'Challa for the throne. What follows is the best scene in the movie. For the first time, there was real risk and the stakes were high. The one-on-one battle to the death between T-Challa and Killmonger was reminiscent of Achilles and Hector's fight in the movie "Troy".

The female supporting cast was great as well, especially Danai Gurira who played the ever-loyal-to-the-throne general. But this movie would not have been anywhere near as good if not for Michael B. Jordan- who played Killmonger with feverish intensity and charisma, even eclipsing Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa. 

While this movie had fake visuals, the performances clearly saved it from mediocrity. But even the otherwise good performances suffered from the poor lighting and CG graphics. There were scenes where actors seemed plastered on a static blurred-out background. For anyone to really enjoy this, you'd have to be okay with the abundance of fake vistas and backdrops.