Wednesday, July 16, 2008

saving Nemo

Again, it's early. I'm the early bird filled with energy and inspiration before 8am again. So, besides the garden, I have put together a spiffy fish aquarium. I saw a cool 25 gallon tank on a black iron stand at a garage sale while attending a 3-year old's birthday party in The Buff's Parkside neighborhood (very cool part of town). Cheap as hell with no leaks. Sold!

It is not salt water (I'm not that high maintenance, nor do I want to become so), and on this clear and already crazy morning, my Bala shark and one of my red Tetras are covered in little white spots. And going down fast. A hunch says its "Ick," a sickness prone to freshwater fish, although I remember some kid at the fish store telling me when asked about a similar condition on one of their fish that it wasn't. But it sure looks like it is. Bummer. My son's fish is the shark, and he's not here. If Sharky dies, do I replace and fake it or pull the "circle of life" lesson? Oh, parenting.......So, my errand list has changed dramatically from "Don't leave the house and don't spend any money. Stay on the chair and write" to a whole host of tiny duties close to PetSmart. Hypermiling included.

Without any concern I admit that "Finding Nemo" was one of my more favorite kid-angled movies to experience since becoming a parent. I have no idea how many times I have sat through this film (dozens? almost a hundred?) but I love it for many reasons:

1. I love the water/fish/swimming anyway and this movie is beautiful in its computer-generated underwater world.
2. The actors hired for the voices of all the fish are stellar.
3. The message always makes me cry
4. The turtles are beach surfers/hippies
5. It reminds me of Adorno because...
6. I love the music (Thomas Newman) although almost all of my graduate musicology education tells me I shouldn't.

I took a seminar in grad school about film music. The class sucked while being perfect at the same time, and it is all coming together today in my fish tank dilemma as I now listen to the "Finding Nemo" soundtrack that has been long downloaded into my computer (my son loves it). The seminar was GREAT because I took it my first semester and the instructor had no idea how to lead a true seminar and gave us no extra work outside of class. For real. It saved me that semester. It was also great because we watched movies three hours a week and listened to her explain the merits and content of the music. Week after week. It was also great because I used "Finding Nemo" for the final (and only) assignment, which took me about an hour to prepare. Not the greatest model for a grad seminar, but it worked for me.

What has always bugged me most about that seminar is the instructor's insistence that current Hollywood film music composers have ruined "the good old days" of movies which, in her mind, extends from the birth of Hollywood until circa 1978 or so. IN GENERAL, I frown at those who bemoan our current existence in favor of one they didn't live through but have learned about. I feel it's ok for an 85-year old to bitch about how the 1950s were better but feel itchy when a 40-year old does.......A-hem.......Anyhoo, learning about/understanding/continuing to grasp Adorno's philosophy was probably the most VALUABLE part of my grad school efforts (and he never came up in the film studies course, for real). And I sit lulled and captivated by Thomas Newman's swishy swirly (lovely) music and feel trapped in the Culture Industry, a pawn in my own pathetic aesthetic existence (Adorno would attest).

And I sometimes don't care. Or can't. Or I simply move on. The loss of a fish, the loss of control (if I ever had it), the loss of the good old days....whatever.....I don't like to make categories of "good" and "bad" and try to use "what is being determined as valuable" and "what is not working" instead. Change is the common element, not stasis. So what is not working today comes down to solving a health issue for my fishies. But other than that, everything else is. Happy Wednesday!

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