Said of a woman who requires an inordinate amount of attention.

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A high maintenance woman is a drama queen. Something or someone is always ruffling her feathers. Her emotions never seem to be centered. A low maintenance woman is the center of calm in any storm.

At a restaurant, a high maintenance woman complains about her food and sends back meals. A low maintenance woman will make a note never to come back to the restaurant again, but will continue to eat and make conversation as if nothing had happened.

If you're in bed, and she says, "Don't touch the hair," she's high maintenance.

If she doesn't want to kiss you because it might smudge her lipstick, she's high maintenance.

A low maintenance woman will walk over cobblestone streets in her high heels with the breathtaking surety of Swiss mountain goats. A high maintenance woman will hail a taxi to avoid them.

It is not true that women who spend a lot of time on makeup, hair care, nails, and dress are high maintenance. They only move into the high maintenance category if you pick them up at the agreed upon time and it still takes them an hour to get ready. When your schedule changes because of her eyeliner, she's high maintenance.

A high maintenance woman will call you just to complain about something. A low maintenance woman will call and ask how your day is going. A high maintenance woman will begin bellyaching the minute you set foot in the door. A low maintenance woman will pour you a glass of wine first.

A low maintenance woman can pack for a trip in an hour, no matter how long the trip. She will not need to buy anything. If you have X hours before you simply must leave for the airport, a high maintenance woman will take X + 1 hours to pack and will require a significant wardrobe budget.

The bedroom of a low maintenance woman will look immaculate when you leave. The bedroom of a high maintenance woman will look like a neutron bomb went off.

A high maintenance woman can never find what she's looking for in her purse. A low maintenance woman does not need a purse. She has you, silly. What more does she need? (This is the woman you should marry.)

A low maintenance woman is fundamentally happy with life. She doesn't need you. If you're there, that's nice, but if you're not, no biggie, she has plenty of girlfriends to hang out with.

A high maintenance woman needs you 24-7. Why aren't you there? Why aren't you picking up the phone? Why don't you answer?

A high maintenance woman is one who will not sit in a dirty Ford F-150 truck on her way to a date. A low maintenance woman is one who'd sit shotgun in the back. (An ultra low maintenance one would be willing to sit outside on the bed with your hound dawg. This is the woman you should marry.)

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Most men love low maintenance women. Low maintenance women are like Honda Accords, always reliable, always on time. They may not be sexy (although many times they are), but they are dependable and steady and you never ever have to worry about them.

Some men love high maintenance women. High maintenance women are like Ferraris: thrilling when they work, but they need a lot of garage time.



icicle believes this term first came into common usage after the 1989 movie, When Harry Met Sally, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. She has also gone on record as denying that she herself is high maintenance.

"High Maintenance" is a 2006 short film, written by Simon Biggs, directed by Phillip Van and starred Nicollette Krebitz and Wanja Mues. It is a combined German/English production, and while being filmed in Germany, it is an English language film. It won several different awards for short films, including at the Sundance Film Festival and at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film is nine minutes long, meaning it is very easy to watch.

The film is a near future science-fiction story, with both comedic and dramatic element. Whether a viewer would find comedy or drama as the predominant element in the story is an interesting question. The film has some slight suggestive humor and adult themes, but has no content that would be considered explicit, although it may be mildly disturbing.

The film can be found at the director's official page, http://www.phillipvan.com/filter/NARRATIVE/HIGH-MAINTENANCE, and can also be found on youtube, although I don't know if it is on there officially. The imdb page can be found at:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0783732/

(WARNING: SPOILERS)


Tender asparagus is an aphrodisiac? Three blinding candles and listening to the sounds of people eating? A sterile table except for a basket of cut bread? A convenient ashtray right behind the woman who goes ballistic when the man lights up a cigarette in her house? It's their anniversary and she throws WATER in his face because she's unhappy? Break the wine bottle over his head to get his attention. I have watched far too many excellent short independent films, as well as been killed in a few, to be a tame critic.


I found the plot, if you could call it that, SO predictable. Brief social commentary on the possible future of online marriage and gender role reversal, ending with the new man seeming to be what she wants (although that was more than a five o'clock shadow on his face). The tip-off for me was his refusal to have a glass of wine with her, although he tricked her by massaging her shoulders, asking about her day, then "killing" her and going to watch TV with a remote in his hand?


Give me a break. I could care less if this won awards ON THE MOON. When a short film has an extremely long list of credits, it's using valuable time for actual content, and I'm the kind of film watcher who reads the credits. Plus her laptop was a Mac, two thumbs down from this extremely low maintenance woman. High maintenance was what my 14 year old grandson would call a bad vignette.

BQ14 256

I will need to discuss some spoilers here. You've been warned. This is what I thought while watching the film

When the robot/husband was turned off it immediately felt like a badly written Isaac Asimov story. Perhaps that was the intention. It immediately fell from "romance is dead" to "obsession over being loved". Asking for a new model only made it worse: "my partner must be adapted to me, not necessarily the other way around". When the second robot/husband comes in and the conversation is repeated with almost 100% accuracy, it became a mixture of "the problem didn't lie on the robot, then eh?" and "Asparagus as sexual innuendo is a step back in the evolution of both language and sex"

Moeyz is surely a better cinephile and critic than I am, but we both saw the ridiculousness of having an ashtray in a house where smoking is forbidden. Maybe it's only a story set in a world of robots where they try to emulate feelings but don't know how and experiment with constant programming and re-programming. I for one enjoyed more the overall human-becomes-machine-becomes-human story in Ayreon's The Human Equation and that was released 10 years ago.

BQ14: 249 words


For the record, as soon as I can give out GP, I'll reward anyone who fills the nodeshell Asparagus as sexual innuendo is a step back in the evolution of both language and sex.

The short film High Maintenance is very much a work of science fiction. While there isn't much in the way of exciting graphics, and certainly no aliens or zombies, the central technology of the film is well beyond anything we can do today. So I'm going to guess... 50-100 years in the future.

I was a bit surprised by some of the negative reviews here. I did not like the characters, the film was a bit too slow for my taste, and the first plot twist is not very original. However, this is an excellent work of SF, in large part due to the ending. But I'm not going to give any spoilers.

What does make this a very good film is that the final plot twist opens up a completely unexplored vista of a completely alien economic system and a highly stylized social system and aesthetic, but still gives us a clear idea of exactly what this world is like. You could easily write a novel based on the world presented. Or, you could let the audience think about it on their own.

194

My personal favorite phrase in writing isn't "kill your darlings" or "show, don't tell" or "less is more" or anything along those lines. Those truisms all have their place in the writer's toolbox, and I fight with them every time I start typing anything out (as you may have noticed from this writeup alone, I tend to be a bit verbose), but none of them hold any particular weight in my mind. Instead, my favorite phrase is one that doesn't even make sense without the proper context - "The eight deadly words." The words that phrase refers to are these:

"I don't care what happens to these people."

The reason this phrase is deadly is because it indicates a fundamental flaw exists within the story the author is trying to tell. Without any sort of connection to the more human aspect of the story, the reader is left floundering the world the author has created, and will, sooner or later, stop paying attention to the story altogether. Science fiction tends to have this problem much more than other genres, as it is much easier to ignore the importance of that human element when you could instead be exploring nifty new alien economic systems or stylized societal systems. Unfortunately, interesting conceits do not always give way to interesting stories. This is the central problem with High Maintenance.

Spoiler alert starts below the line.

 


Another problem lies in the systems that High Maintenance tries so desperately to swap out for a story - specifically that none of these systems make any damn sense whatsoever. The economic system suffers from more gaping holes than fishnet stockings1.. A few of the more notable ones for me were2:

  1. We purpose-build robots for a reason. Robots built to be worthwhile partners (look at the website, that's what they're designed for) would not have sociopathic tendencies plugged into them. Robots that have not been tested well enough to see they have sociopathic tendencies under the surface are shoddily made and would likely not be in wide usage. Remember kids, don't trust anything from China.
  2. Robots should not consume resources unless needed for energy. The fact that they do so in the film means that the robots are designed for running on human-digestible food. I'll get to the "maybe they just like it" factor in a moment.
  3. The world (and this number is pulled out of the dark corners of my memory, so I believe it's accurate in a general sense but not worth citing ever) can sustain, given current crop production methods and cultivatable land and so on and so forth, can sustain roughly ten billion people living like Africans (or 2.5 billion living like Americans). Adding mass-produced (or at least easily produced) robots to that number means anyone who buys a robot is rushing us to that carrying capacity even more quickly. The assholes.
  4. The woman there was most certainly living more like an American (German? Brit? Westerner.) than like an African. The asshole.
  5. By adding a human being into your household with no job experience or special training to your household, you're taking on a massive financial drain. This is a lot less "baby" or "boyfriend lost his job", a lot more "marrying a homeless men". Especially considering they may kill you (more on that later).
  6. Even if the robots can be given all the knowledge they need to succeed in the world, the job market is going to be hellishly competitive once you throw in the robots. If they're on even footing with humans, unemployment worldwide is going to start looking a lot more like Spain. If they're better than we are, then most humans will be out of their jobs, homes, and lives in no time at all.
  7. If a human is too poor to maintain their posessions, they are (gasp!) reposessed. This would lead to their robots either being taken from them and given to someone else, or being melted for scrap. This is one hellish film.
  8. Since the robots already pushed us right up against the population cap, food would be scarce. The humans who are all losing their jobs would be the first to lose eating privileges. Enter famine, stage right.
  9. If the robots are only eating for fun, that still puts added pressure on the food supply. Children in Africa are already starving thanks to us. Now, because we want to "humanize" our walking sex toys, we're just blatantly killing them.

Now, these are just the ones that jumped at me (I am currently swimming through piles of information related to environmental science, which is why all these points have a distinct food supply feel to them), and I'm sure there are more. However, I'm going to change my focus to the problems inherent in the social structure the film creates, starting with the woman's situation:

  1. We purpose-build robots for a reason. Robots that are built to be worthwhile partners would then only leave the warehouse to be shipped to the person who ordered that robot, as shown in the film. This leaves no reason for the female robot to not be attached to a human.
  2. If her human died of natural causes, this is more excusable. Still, the female robot would become property of her human's estate, and should have been either resold or melted for scrap by this point, not buying more glorified sex toys.
  3. If she killed her human, not only did she violate the first law of robotics but she would have not been fufilling her programming's goal (already discussed) and would again become part of her human's estate. That last point also goes for the male robot who shut her off - murder is a great way to get yourself turned into slag.
  4. If their life could be ended - or, at least, paused - in such an easy manner as a neck switch, robots would not be so willing to accept neck rubs. Imagine letting someone come up to you and start fondling your chest with a knife.
  5. It also seems as though switch covers would become quite the popular commodity, much like bulletproof vests are for people in war zones or nursing homes are for people who are about to die one way or another. Humans - and things that think like humans - are very good when it comes to avoiding death for as long as possible.
  6. We actually do have ways to end life as easily as a neck switch. They're called guns. Or knives. Or windowsills, poisons, injections of air into the arteries, etcetera. This societal structure isn't so much "unique" as "poorly regulated". So... take that, libertarians! ...I guess.

That's a start, but in no way does this even begin to cover the massive amount of problems and plot holes the film manages to pack within its (padded with two minutes of credits) nine minute running time. And, if you ask me, it never even touched the interesting pieces of its premise. With a custom-made-robot-based society, you have all of the ethical dilemmas attached to cloning alongside all those with sentient AI programs, multiplying together in a whole new array of philosophical arguments. The film never even touches these, instead just suggestively wiggling its eyebrows at the massive pile of squandered possibility it managed to create in its short life.

I wish this film had spent more time on the philosophical questions behind the (extraordinarily) thin storyline it presented. I wish that the central premise of this (well-filmed, well-presented) world made any sense in the slightest. I wish that I liked this short. Unfortunately, you can't always get what you want. The film glosses over any interesting points it could have raised and instead (between the dinner and the time spent on the website, also known as the entire film) focuses on poorly thought through elements of an impossible society. Altogther, the nicest things I have to say about this film is that the camerawork was very well done. Otherwise, it was simply lacking too much.3

 


 

1: Alternate lines: "More gaping holes in it than in..."

  1. Most of my arguments in the catbox
  2. A gay man in the deep south
  3. George Zimmerman's alibi
  4. A slut
  5. New England roads
  6. A West Virginian's family tree
  7. British teeth
  8. A female echidna (THEY HAVE TWO VAGINAS!)
  9. The ozone layer
  10. Most Americans' knowledge of European geography
  11. Most Europeans' knowledge of American geography
  12. Got another one? Message me, I'll add it.

2: To the people whose first reaction to this list is to make excuses or explanations along the lines of "well, maybe they...", I have this much to say:

"Well, maybe they..."

No. That's exactly the problem. They didn't.

In science fiction, there are two different ways of dealing with any not-exactly-possible situation: either hand wave it away, or brush it under the rug and hope no one notices. My problems with this film stem from their consistent usage of the second (and worse) of these two tactics. Instead of offering some quick out for the characters (oh, thank God for buildings which grow asparagus from their paneling so we can enjoy this meal!) the film merely ignores any issue with the world it creates, and does it so blatantly that I don't think the creators put any more thought into their script than the basic plot points and first draft. I love hand waves. I don't feel the need for every economic detail to be spelled out for me. But damn if I won't call you out if you think that ignoring any economic or societal problems of introducing massive amounts of sociopathic robots into a civilization is a good way to tell a story. I don't fully care what the justification is, so long as there is one. And High Maintenance doesn't care enough about its world to even fufill that requirement.

3: The point of this node is to inspire large amounts of creative energy focused on one easily accessible topic. To that end, I would love to see more lists of problems with the film's structure. If you don't want to make your own writeup or don't think you have enough material for one, message me and I will happily add your point to this list and credit you.


* DonJaime says re High maintenance: Three ways of dealing with a not-exactly-possible situation: 3. make it the premise of your story.

Mj says re DonJaime: A story built on shoddy framework can succeed. This one didn't.

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