Friday Flotsam: Vita Nuova, Psych Matters, Rule of Life, and Killer Shrews

1. So incipit vita nuova. Of course it hasn’t really begun; I don’t start until Monday. But one phase is definitely over.

2. Today was mostly spent finishing up the transfer of files from my old computer to the new one. I’m trying to clear as many old projects or ‘things that need to be done’ from my list as possible, as these have a tendency to prey on my mind.

3. Though honestly I think that’s a manifestation of my depression / anxiety more than anything else, where whatever I’m doing, I worry that I ought to be doing something else. So things don’t get done because my first instinct is always “can’t spend time on that now…” Only, my mind doesn’t feel comfortable settling on anything, so nothing gets done.

It’s getting better, but it’s still a hassle.

4. On that subject, I’ve been watching through Adam Land Smith’s videos for the past few weeks and found them very helpful, especially compared to a lot of YouTube therapists. He explains things very well, is extremely perceptive, and a lot of what he says is very familiar to me. Many thanks to Aetherfilledskyproductions for the original recommendation. That recommendation I now pass on to you.

5. Made a rule of life for my self, inspired by Gabriel Garcia Moreno’s. I have it printed out and tapped to my bathroom mirror, as well as in pasted in my pocket notebook. I don’t follow it very well yet (though not completely failing either), but the important thing, I finding, is just being repeatedly reminded of what I’m trying to make of my life and how to do it. I recommend the exercise, but it’s no good unless you find a way to reinforce it regularly.

6. I revisited The Killer Shrews a week or so ago (the MST3k episode, which is a pretty good one: “Hey, Shrew-B-Gone! We’re saved!”). The interesting thing about that movie is that, despite being a shovelware B-movie with amusingly goofy effects – the shrews are dogs in paper-mache masks – it’s nevertheless quite intelligent in terms of its plot and set up. The premise is that a scientist on a remote island has been conducting experiments that have resulted in a pack of giant killer shrews being set loose, forcing the small group stranded there to find some way to escape.

Now, ordinarily he’d be some kind of mad scientist running a patently dangerous experiment without precaution. But here, he’s actually a perfectly sane, decent man legitimately trying to study a problem (overpopulation: yes, they were hounding that back then too). He’s doing experiments in growth hormones and uses shrews because they have such rapid life cycles that generational traits can be studied. He set up on an isolated island to ensure that nothing he did could possibly endanger anyone else. The shrews only escaped because his assistant got drunk and accidentally let them out. When it becomes clear how dangerous the situation is becoming, he tries to send his obligatory gorgeous daughter off the island with the next supply boat (since he feels obliged to stay and monitor the experiment), but a hurricane strands them before she can leave. The heavy rain also starts to weaken the adobe walls of the farmhouse.

In other words, the situation comes about through a series of logical steps, with only one real mistake (the drunk guy) and a bit of bad luck, not from the characters acting like idiots.

The fact that the boat is a last-minute replacement for the usual one also means that our hero – James Best of Dukes of Hazard fame – has to have everything explained to him along with us and asks the questions we would ask. His MacGyver-like solution in the climax is also pretty clever (though as Joel and the Bots point out, it is a little dubious that they were able to put it together in the time available to them).

7. You might notice that the set up is more than a little reminiscent of Jurassic Park, or rather vice-versa. Though many might like to deny it, most A-pictures have more than a little B-movie in their DNA.

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