2009-01-19

The Pleasures of Heredity

I had lunch with my grandpa at my favorite restaurant, Skyline Chili, at the beginning of the month, a couple of days before coming back here to Vienna. It was an enlightening experience.

My grandpa and I have always gotten along well, but this time was exceptionally good, because not only did we keep good conversation going, but even now, over a week later, I'm still thinking about some of the things he said.

First of all, he said he liked the movie The Bourne Supremacy. That surprised me. The first time my grandpa recommended a new movie to me (newer than anything John Wayne had done, anyway) was when he saw O' Brother, Where Art Thou? in the theater, and talked about it for a few days. Because I had never gotten such a recommendation from him before, I went and saw the movie, and very much enjoyed it. I ended up buying the DVD, but then it got stolen. So, I began to trust my grandpa's taste in movies.

Perhaps I'm too hard on today's action movies, but I lost a little faith in him after he told me he liked The Bourne Supremacy. I get easily bored watching those types of movies, perhaps because the question, "who's going to get killed next?" or "will he get away?" doesn't excite me nearly as much as the nuances of language or thought. I'm the one laughing during the James bond movies, which in general I love, because the action there is often sarcastic or ironic. I don't like movies that take themselves too seriously. If I want to see super-serious action, for me it doesn't get better than watching that part of The Matrix starting from entering the office building lobby and finishing just after Neo pulls Trinity to the roof after she crashed the helicopter. But I don't need to see the rest of the movie; it's mostly boring.

To get to the point, maybe I'll have to reconsider my opinion of the Bourne trilogy, because of my grandpa, I don't have much hope, because I don't think I'm closed-minded enough to have ignored the good parts the first time around.

The second, and more important thing my grandpa said: "I can't get bored." Now, this is something I've long thought about myself, but I had never heard anybody else say it. My grandpa said, "I can sit here and look out the window all day and find something interesting out there."

That brings me to a topic I've thought about on many occasions. Some people ahve made the comment that today's youth, whoever that is, is overstimulated. They are constantly using their cell phones, iPods, internet, and Portable Whatever Devices. But I say they're understimluated. If tey were stimulated enough, in a meaningful way, they wouldn't be continually searching for something with these electronics. Unfortunately, these electronic devices are preventing meaningful stimulation when, for example, people wear iPods when in public, or someone uses Facebook as a surrogate for real-life socializing. And it's not just kids who are doing this. Let me toot my own horn here: I think I'm the only person left who doesn't even want an MP3 player. I have one, and a radio, built into my phone, and I don't use it. I think hearing people talking on the subway is more interesting that hearing the same songs I always hear. Maybe that's why I don't get bored, either. I mean, looking out the window is more interesting to me than listening to music.

This is also further evidence that my grandpa and I are related. It was a belated Happy Thanksgiving email from him that made me realize from where I got my interests in conversation, meeting people, and using creative language. Put that together with my Dad's dedication and perfectionism, and you've guy who likes to meet people, talk to them, and then beat them at something. That's me, if that wasn't clear. Thank God I have my mom's tolerance and (some of her) humility.

Families are cool.

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