Malick’s “Tree of WTF” a (very) long strange trip 6

If you always wanted to drop acid but missed your chance, I have good news for you. Terrence Malick’s new movie, “Tree of Life,” is just as weird, and you can accurately recreate the LSD experience without possible chromosome damage or exposure to Phish fans.

The movie has a lot in common with the ergot experience. Confusion? Check. Inability to make sense of what’s happening? Check. Suicidal thoughts (e.g., “One more shot of Brad Pitt clenching his jaw and I’m going to kill myself.”)? Check. And while acid trips last 8-12 hours, “Tree of Life” only seems to drag on that long.

Still up in the air about seeing this flick? Here are some guidelines that might help you decide

  • Do you still own a lava lamp?
  •  Have you seen the Grateful Dead (intentionally) more than once?
  •  Do you know how to macramé?
  • Have you ever twisted up a bomber on the “Dark Side of the Moon” LP (or do you even know what that means?)
  • Do you think “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was pretty much the high-water mark in rock music?

If you answered, “yes” to three or more of these, then you will love this movie. And if you thought “2001: A Space Odyssey” was heavy, wait till you see this – it’s effing ponderous.

I noticed that the film credits listed an editor, and that confused me. I came up in the world of print where editing typically makes things shorter and more coherent. Apparently film editing has the exact opposite goals.

This is one movie that really needed some slicing and dicing. There were countless scenes of people gazing upward – so many, in fact, that I thought perhaps the Earth was being invaded by aliens. It could be they were just looking for the “exit” sign; I know I was.

There were so many upward shots – through tree branches, gazing at clouds, images that looked like the Big Bang – that I got vertigo and fell out of my seat. Seriously – if all of those scenes had been excised, Malick would have been left with a trailer and not a feature-length film. In my book, that would not have been a bad thing.

A friend described this flick as “challenging.”  And she’s right – after about 45 minutes it was all I could do not to bolt from my seat and into the theater next door to catch “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

It’s also a very thought-provoking work. It prompts us to ask questions like, “Who or what created us?” and “Why are we here,” and the one I repeatedly found myself returning to, “Has my watch stopped?”

The best review of this movie is one I heard, not one I read. I was waiting for my wife to get out of the restroom and I heard a woman say to her friend, “OK, I may be stupid, and I may be shallow – and I’m cool with either one – but what the fuck was that about?”

Glad she wasn’t asking me.

I have good news and I have bad news (stop me if you’ve heard this) 2

Guys, I have good news and I have bad news. Fortunately (for you, anyway) it does not involve the results of your lab test; unfortunately (for me, anyway) neither does it involve a young blond receptionist. If you’re a regular reader here, you probably already know that gag; if you’re an irregular reader, many doctors recommend lots of roughage and regular exercise.

But back to the news. The good news is that, despite all the warnings we Boomers got in our mis-spent youth that high-volume rock ‘n’ roll would ruin our hearing, it now appears that it didn’t.

The bad news for us guys – especially us married guys – is that if this information falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the end to using Jefferson Airplane-induced hearing loss as an excuse for not hearing things we’d rather not.

According to a study I just read about, we Baby Boomers actually have better hearing than did our parents. And if the researchers are interpreting their data correctly, then the rate of hearing problems at ages ranging from 45 to 75 has been dropping for years, at least among white Americans.

Of course, not everyone in this group has flawless ears. Certain occupations cause noise-induced hearing loss. And some hearing loss can be attributed to the military. This is true in my case; I am almost completely deaf in my left ear because I punctured my eardrum with a knitting needle to avoid going into the Army.

But back to the news. The implications of this these findings are not pretty, and could put an end to life as we know it. When that day comes, and our wives say, “Please take out the trash,” and then 30 minutes later find us stretched out on the sofa, blasting Dark Side of the Moon, we will no longer be able to say, “Trash? I thought you said stash; my bad.”

Anyway, I said I have good news and bad news — actually, I have good news, bad news, and them some more good news. Here’s the more good news: The study indicated that, while our exposure to loud music may not have hurt our hearing, the same is not true of other folks – and by “other folks” I mean “those crazy kids” — who blast high-volume music through their earbuds.  They’re just asking for it. And you call that music? Turn that crap down! And get off my lawn!

Warning signs of hearing loss

Your hearing is a precious gift; use this checklist to keep it healthy.

  • Sounds seem muffled to you. Check to see that no one is holding a pillow over your face.
  • Ringing or other sounds. This is probably your new cell phone; check the ringer settings.
  • Sensation of pressure in your ears. Make sure you haven’t cinched your belt a notch too tight, or perhaps sat on your testicles.
  • Others complain more frequently that your TV or music is too loud. Actually, it would be impossible for people to complain more frequently that my music is too loud – or, perhaps more to the point, that my taste in music sucks.
  • People feel you’re not paying attention to them. I got news for you; my hearing’s fine – I’m just ignoring you.