Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Passion of Star Wars (spoiler-free)

For most of my adult life, I've been jaded and cynical.

Everyone is always out to get you, every seemingly good act is a cover to hide the true motive (which most of the time is money).

No one has passion in anything good and everything is shit.

I have plenty of reasons to think this way, but it doesn't make for a happy existence.


That changed tonight.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The entire movie I was literally vibrating with excitement. This movie made me feel pure, unjaded passion for the first time in years. I felt 10 years old again, when the world still seemed glorious and filled with wonder.

Sure, Disney is going to make enough money off this movie (and the rest of the series) to buy most of Europe and several smaller Asian countries, but that's not what motivated the movie.

This movie was crafted by people who were fueled by the same pure passion that I thought no longer existed. From the nostalgic throwbacks both obvious and sneaky, to the careful and masterful way major flaws of the other movies were handled, every detail of this movie was perfected by people who love their jobs, their lives, and themselves.


So the deepest and most sincere thank you goes out to J.J. Abrams, John Williams, all the actors and crew, and even to George Lucas (even though the movie probably owes its success to him not directing), for reminding me that beauty can exist in a world full of cynicism.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Remember, Remember, Another November

It's that time of the year again, when the leaves fall off the trees, the temperature drops, and my blood stirs up once again.


"Remember, remember..." and all that.


As much as I love V for Vendetta, I have a few gripes about the movie.

The villains in V4V are clear-cut. Literal fascists, rising to power after a series of catastrophic events that were started as part of a massive conspiracy, leading to a sudden and complete eradication of rights and liberties. Very dystopian, very 1984, very black and white.
"Thank god we don't live in that world", you might say.

Or do we?


We don't. Ours is not the world of black and white. There are no yellow-coded curfews, no black bags, no charismatic terrorists in masks. The power-hungry fascists do not stand at podiums, yelling at huge crowds. Their rise to power is not sudden and marked by catastrophe. The loss of our rights and liberties is not sudden, but worn away gradually without notice.
They distract us by making the passing of obvious laws a huge struggle so that we have no fight in us to oppose the passing of far more dangerous laws. The power is not centered in one religious extreme fundamentalist, but spread among the millions of people who value the contents of their bank account more than the well-being of their common man. The 1% may have all the money and all the power, but it's all the temporarily embarrassed millionaires and those who say "screw you buddy, I've got mine" that allow the 1% to keep all the money and power.

And there is no easy fix. There is no law we can pass, no building we can blow up, no one person we can elect who will turn our dystopia into a utopia.
But that doesn't mean we can't make things better.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me

To a quarter of a century.

To halfway through my decade.

To all the lessons learned.

To all the mistakes made.

To all the good times.

To all the bad.

To all those who were there for both.

To all my successes.

To all my failures.

To all the rum I have drank in the past.

To all the rum I will drink in the future.

To my faithful canine companion,

And to me.

I don't know who I am, or who I want to be.

But I have a rum and coke, and that's good enough for now.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Amaryllis

I bought a new car last week.

Not earthshaking, people buy new cars all the time. I probably got ripped off, too. I know I fell for damn near every trick in the car salesmen's book. But that's not important.

My first vehicle that I called mine was actually my grandfather's 1984 Ford F150. I called her Vera, a name I shamelessly stole from Jayne Cobb's favorite gun. My first actual vehicle was a Ford Ranger. I named her Vera Jr, since she was a smaller truck than her namesake.
When I said goodbye to Vera Jr and got my new truck, I did not want to continue with the Vera lineage, for a couple of reasons. For one, Vera 3 is very unimaginative. For another, my new truck is not a truck at all, but an Explorer Sport Trac. Technically an SUV, with a short truck bed.

I thought about it for a while, and tonight as I was standing outside my front door, hoping the outside air would equalize with the air in my apartment so I wouldn't be sleeping in a sauna, I thought about what this new truck means for me.

In the past year I've had a lot of new starts. Some good, like a new job. Some not so good, like ending a relationship. I've even discovered a new me, someone that can exercise daily for two months straight. (I'm still fighting to hold onto that new me.)
Through it all I've had Vera Jr, a 1994 Ford Ranger that was purchased with cash from a small-time car dealer with a dirt parking lot. The list of things that needed repair on that truck was as long as she was (and it was the model of Ranger with the extended bed). I kept expecting it to one day break down for good (either in the middle of heavy traffic as I was running late for work, or in the middle of nowhere outside of cell range). But I kept driving her. "She starts when I want her to and stops when I need her to, and that's good enough for me." I'd say. Lack of money was a major reason why I didn't get a new car, but it wasn't the only reason. A masochistic part of me felt it was manlier to have a run-down truck. After all, what's manlier than fixing cars? Except I couldn't fix most of what was wrong with it, and I certainly didn't have the money to have someone else fix them.

I would joke that Vera Jr was as dependable as I was, which is to say, not very dependable at all. And I didn't like that. I respect and envy people that are always dependable, men (and women) of their words.
Now that I have a truck that isn't leaking fluids, my vehicle is more dependable than I am. This gives me something to strive for. I want to still be able to say I'm as dependable as my truck, and have it be a good thing.

I also came to realize that I deserve this new truck. Or rather, I didn't deserve the old one. There are still a multitude of ways I want to improve my life, the same multitude I've always been struggling with. But I've made great progress in my life. The man I am today is better in every single way than the man I was when I bought Vera Jr.


So, the name of my new truck. Kinda gave it away with the title. Amaryllis. Means "fresh". As in a fresh start. A new beginning. (Also the name of one of my favorite Shinedown albums).
It won't be the last fresh start I get. In fact in a year's time I'll have the biggest fresh start of my life as I leave Indiana without looking back and start my life over somewhere new. And when I do pack up my truck and move, I won't have to worry about my truck breaking down before I hit the state border.