Love is all around... a Valentine's weekend report back

The Valentine's Day weekend was a mix of busyness and relaxation for me. Pop culture consumption fortunately featured quite prominently in my plans. And for the record, I didn't do too badly this Valentine's Day: an email card from my online Valentine (he knows who he is! ;)), a text message greeting and even a balloon and chocolate... from, erm, Milky Lane.

When there are gaps in my schedule and I really don't feel like sitting at home, I always find myself drawn to my first love: movies. This weekend I caught 2 films at the cinema.

The first was The Road, the post-apocalyptic survival drama based on Cormac McCarthy' Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I loved the book so I naturally had high hopes for the film. Unfortunately though, it's a big disappointment. My review will appear on this blog soon, but in summary the film suffers from a serious case of "adaptionitus." It's an emotionally flat highlights package, redeemed only by some excellent performances - the always magnetic Viggo Mortensen, in particular. People were even walking out of the cinema and I haven't experienced that in quite a while.

Overall, my movie experience on Friday evening was not a good one. Despite having enjoyed solid service at Nu Metro Pavilion in recent weeks and months, on Friday evening it was disastrous. The self-service kiosks were down - as they normally are 80% of the time - forcing the technologically competent, and those with the foresight to book online earlier, to still have to queue with the dumb masses. The staff were disinterested and I had to ask for my complimentary salt sachet, so my popcorn could actually have some flavour. Worst of all, 3 minutes before the end of the film, the reel jumped in the projector, sending the screen black for the final scene.

Come on, guys! Get your act together. Studios and cinema chains are always whining about how DVD sales and piracy are killing their business, when in reality they do a very good job themselves of driving cinema goers to their homes. Why subject yourself to a bad movie and a bad viewing experience when with the right home cinema setup, you can optimise your comfort and enjoyment, AND eliminate all the jackasses and related jackass problems that spoil it?

Fortunately, my Sunday evening cinema experience, when I went to see Valentine's Day with a group of girlfriends was a lot better. For the record, the all-star ensemble comedy-drama Valentine's Day is actually quite pleasant. It's refreshingly hysteria and slapstick free. Still though, it's no Love Actually. Being a Hollywood film, everyone is babalicious, and everyone gets their romantic happy ending.

Speaking earlier of watching films at home on TV, I found myself enjoying The Core again on Saturday afternoon. It's probably my favourite big dumb End of the World film that Roland Emmerich never made. Plus, I was very surprised to discover that it made reference to the material Unobtainium, which is so important in Avatar.

Later on that same day, I brushed off my copy of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, largely so that I could see Petra and the Treasury again in the film that made it my dream to visit the site in real life. Watching the film again, I found myself marveling at how it is such a fantastically taunt action-adventure film. And it isn't even as good as Raiders! I'm sorry, but the original Indiana Jones trilogy stumps Star Wars Episodes IV-VI every single time. Easily my favourite movie series of all time...

I don't normally blog about TV because I watch so little of it, but a thunderstorm kept me off my PC on Saturday evening, and, lying with a bottle of wine and box of Cadbury's chocolates on the couch, I actually found myself watching the Top 10 show of America's Got Talent Season 3. Although it's incredibly emotionally manipulative - every contestant has some sob story about overcoming the odds - and I do think this season has too many singers, I do appreciate how the show doesn't beat around the bush. The talent contest doesn't drag on for months like Idols. The contestants are whittled away very quickly. And on Saturday evening I actually found myself agreeing with the Final 5 as chosen by the American public.

This weekend I also returned to World of WarCraft after a month's break. Surprise, surprise, the seasonal event Love Is In the Air is underway at the moment. So, having binged on chocolates, made charm bracelets for the great leaders of the Horde, and sprayed random players with cologne, my Warlock culminated her Valentine's Day festivities by getting drunk, covering herself in perfume and making out with an undead cockroach seller. Good times!

I loathe to admit this but I'm currently reading a relationship self-help book. Admittedly it's one of the most famous and acclaimed, but it's a self-help text nonetheless. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by Dr. John Gray is different from a lot of couple-centric pop psychology books because it doesn't attempt to find common ground between the sexes. Gray acknowledges that men and women are very different emotionally, and in terms of love priorities, and then sets about explaining how to communicate lovingly despite these differences - but at all times acknowledging them.

Now of course there are some basic flaws. Gray's book was first published in 1992 and do think that men and women of the younger generations (well, mine at least) have become more difficult to classify in terms of gender characteristics. Young women have "toughened" up and developed more masculine characteristics - like disliking unsolicited advice, a biggie for me - while the "metrosexual" movement means guys are much more sensitive and open to talking about things.

This said, damn, I wish I'd read this book earlier. I wish the ex had read this book. In fact I would love for him to read it and then sit and chat with him, resolving some issues; getting some closure. However, since he did the breaking up, I don't think it's at all appropriate for me to reach out in such a way, even if I want to... so I have forbidden myself from doing so. Ho hum.

Anyway, the strongest message I have received from the book is that I'm not a depressive downer. Frankly I was quite terrified that there was something fundamentally "broken" about me - never happy; not confident in a relationship; looking and feeling needy frequently. Well, it turns out that it's perfectly normal for women to go through cycles of feeling so neglected, particularly when there is no romance, care and general loving acknowledgment from your partner.

The ex made mistakes and I certainly made mistakes - the chief of which was trying to resist the descent of my wave of self esteem. I felt guilty feeling upset, angry and frustrated, and simultaneously I was worried that if I expressed my feelings the very sensitive ex would be irreparably hurt, and leave. Naturally this suppression led to resentment and emotional withdrawal. So, right, I apologise right now in advance to the next boyfriend... because I will be doing a lot of talking (please note, not yelling!) when I am upset. And it would really make me happy if you read Men Are From Mars, Women Are For Venus to help nip some fundamental problems in the bud.

Finally in terms of my other book and comic activities, Girlz 'N' Games fans will be pleased to know that a new web comic is in production. It should debut online later this week if everything goes to plan.


Gareth said…
I'm a big fan of Gray's book myself, it sits on my bookshelf amongst my collection of fantasy and sci-fi. You can't just apply the principles without considering the individual partner, but they are definitely worth keeping in mind.
David Cranmer said…
I didn't care for the film version of The Road either. Come to think of it, I didn't finish it myself. The acting was very good though.
Anonymous said…
Is this a Freudian slip?
"And it would really make me happy if you read Men Are From Mars, Women Are For Venus to help nip some fundamental problems in the bud."
Women are From Venus (aren't they?)
GreenLantern said…
I read Mars/Venus a while back, during my first 'adult' relationship, and it really helped an emotionally inarticulate me develop something of a vocabulary to help navigate through the treacherous waters of the'we need to talk' moments where, hitherto, I'd floundered helplessly (and have begun floundering once more, to judge by the mixed metaphors!)

Although I'm naturally resistant to the idea of a catch-all explanation for all of male and female behaviour, the notion of men needing to retreat to give things a good think while women need engagement, and to talk things through, has rung true in my experience.

But when both partners know what they want out of life and from each other, and mutual trust has been earned, the minor day-to-day conflicts resulting from those opposing yinny/yangy moments should be easily resolved by a bit of talking, a spot of ass-kicking if necessary, the judicious application of chocolates, two glasses of wine and a cuddle.

For major rifts and transgressions see book two: Men are from Mars, Women are Always Right.
Terrance said…
I'm probably going to try and catch The Road this weekend myself to see what its all about. A friend of mine who read the book seems to be happy with how it was filmed so I'll try to watch it with an open mind.

I also have to agree that Indiana Jones manages to be a far better and funnier film than Star Wars. I might just rewatch the Indiana Jones films this week :)
Pfangirl said…
Gareth, thanks for commenting. Gray talks a lot of sense, helping to combat the 2 main relationship destructors: cruelly lashing out or suppressing your feelings. For most people constructive, loving expression of emotion has to be learned; it's not natural.

David, thanks for sharing your thoughts on The Road. Nice to hear that someone shares the same opinion about it:)

K, LOL, no Freudian slip I'm afraid... just very disobedient typing fingers:)

GreenLantern, Men Are From Mars definitely has a lot of lessons to offer everyone. And you're right that the biggest ones are the need to retreat (male) and the need to talk (female) to begin the process of resolving an issue. I think once you get the basics down, and are confident communicating in your relationship, you'll find a conflict resolution method that works for you as a couple, without needing to consult Gray. Cuddles, talking and wine are a staple though:) P.S. where do I find Book 2? ;)

Terrance, I'll definitely be interested to hear your thoughts on the Road, having not read the book.

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