Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Please Friends, Put Down The Phone

Walks in the Park
Aunts and Uncles

On Facebook, I've seen these all. Many posted by the same people.
I have one simple question.

How much more would you and your family enjoy these moments without the need for social media documentation?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

In Memoriam

For Shane

Yesterday, I sat in the library, thinking of you. As I pored over vegan recipes, tales of medieval monks, and descriptive biography of Yasujiro Ozu, I thought about you more. Who else could I call and discuss all three? Who else would be able to add insight to my last meal, movie, and chapter? I was tempted to walk, arrive work sweaty, but feeling accomplished, but a bump in the rode arose and I found myself driving. You'd have scoffed, claimed I took the easy way or accused me of always avoiding the circuitous route, in favor of ease. I'd agree, then buy you a beer.

Last night, I thought about us twenty-five years ago, maybe more. Rows of six dimes stacked on the bar. Cold Schaefer puckering our lips. Commenting on the old-timers, of which I am now one. You're not here to share those moments, that repartee or the serious moments we often shared. With every meal, movie and mountain life throws at me, I miss you more. There were years where we only spoke once. This year was the first of many that will no longer happen and that realization was painful. Tonight I will toast your life, mourn your passing and miss your wit, intelligence, and friendship. You were one of my best friends and I miss you dearly.

Monday, May 7, 2018

March & April Movies 2018

  1. Blade Runner 2049 - Deakins' cinematography makes up for a lot. Better than the original!
  2. La Bete Humaine - Renoir's boring tale fails to make you feel for any of the characters.
  3. Killing Ground - Standard horror trail story, gets good, then completely falls apart.
  4. Wind River - Been done before, but for some reason, it clicks in all the right spots.
  5. The Villainess - Korean action film that excels due to its "gimmicks" and its amazing star.
  6. 35 Shots Of  Rum - Claire Denis' version of Ozu's Late Spring, trains and all. Solid.
  7. Darkest Hour - Brilliant acting. Oldman won Oscar, but it's James who truly shines.
  8. Perfect Blue - Confusing anime Inspired by so much and inspired even more. Must see.
  9. Skirt Day - Teacher deals with unruly students and a gun. Heartbreaking. Adjani is great.
  10. The Thing (2011) - Absolutely unwatchable. I tried three times and couldn't sit through it.
  11. Chris Rock: Tamborine - Feels like a weak reboot of Bigger and Blacker. Pretty dull.
  12. The Man Without A Past - Least favorite Kurasmaki film, but has its moments.
  13. Sicario (Re-watched) - Better the second time around. Score and cinematography is special.
  14. A Handmaid's Tale (first two episodes) - I adore Moss & Strahovski, but this start is slow.
  15. The Shape Of Water - Hawkins shines, with stellar support, in Del Toro's brilliant fairytale.
  16. Black Orpheus - Not seen since I was a kid. Even better. Marpessa Dawn just dazzles. 
  17. My Blueberry Nights - Wong Kar-Wai does English speaking film. Colors pop, as does acting.
  18. Sunrise - Rewatched the film that is, in my opinion, the greatest film ever made. 
  19. Luna De Miel (Honeymoon) - Spanish horror which concentrates on shocks. Near miss.
  20. Days Of Being Wild - Maggie Cheung is as beautiful as the film looks, but it lacks something.
  21. The Florida Project - Touching, at times painful look at poverty, through many different eyes. 
  22. Aftershock - Easily the worst first 35 minutes of any movie ever. Then something happens.
  23. The Girl Without Hands - Animated sketches tell a Brothers Grimm tale. Lovely.
  24. Selected Shorts by Sebastian Laudenbach - None have the look or resonate like TGWH
  25. The Ritual - Dreadful over-hyped horror film filled with common themes and cliches.
  26. Atonement - Is this The Notebook with a much sadder ending? It only clicks at the end.
  27. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Flawed at times, but acting elevates it 
  28. The Killers - Hemingway's writing is a noir classic. Fun throughout, but Gardner is wonderful.
  29. The Killers - Tarkovsky's school film. Only 20+ minutes long, but signs of things to come.
  30. Doctor Strange - Great cast makes this average superhero film stand out. Good fun.
  31. Veronica - Spanish horror film delivers. Great tension coupled with fine young actors.
Top Three - The Shape of Water, The Darkest Hour, Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Bottom Three - The Thing (2011), Aftershock, The Ritual
Biggest Surprise - Veronica
Biggest Disappointment - La Bete Humaine

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Today's Kids = Today's Parents

Parents talk about "today's kids" or "in my day," but the funny thing is, the parents who post or say "In my day" don't accept the fact they're doing things wrong. It's amazing how when you point out a preventable behavior and how to curb it, they immediately shut down. When did being a parent mean having a closed mind? Hell, my generation's parents all had Dr. Spock right next to Dr. Suess and they referenced that book a lot more than we read One Fish, Two Fish.

 Maybe this is why today's kids say things people back in my day would never have dreamed of saying. Sadly, some even do it. I don't think a single day goes by when I'm not learning how to teach, educate, advise and communicate with kids. Every time I learn something about them, I learn even more about their parents.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Molly & Me

Last night, I was hesitant to read Molly Ringwald's article in her current day form, a feminist, mother and former child-star. I was worried about how she'd change my view of John Hughes. Someone who I always felt "got me," much more than my parents. Death, crimes and sordid behavior have stripped many of the icons of my youth away, but it dawned on me, the thing that has taken the most away is myself. I'd like to call it growth, age, experience, but then I'd have to ask myself the question I'm asking myself now, having read Miss Ringwald's piece.

If I can still love these movies while appreciating the fact that Mr. Hughes sometimes painted familiar pictures that were part of the problem, why can't we all? The major flaw in The Breakfast Club is that Bender gets the girl. It's not a flaw because it's not realistic, it's a flaw because, in the fairytale ending, Bender is the bad guy. Even The Geek's letter explains they'll go back to who they are, or even worse, who adults view them as. So maybe that lesson is lost, Miss Ringwald is right and these aren't movies to be hailed as being perfect, because of their perfect representations of our flawed society. A culture of demeaning women isn't only taught at home, but in those pieces of art, we cherish, even teach in schools. Most outsiders related to Bender. The final shot, his fist pumped in the air, triumphant in his conquest, despite never treating Miss Ringwald's character with an ounce of respect, even possibly assaulting her in one scene, is the point of the article.

Do we owe it to our next generation to point out the flawed system or allow them to recognize it? Hughes, for all his magic, his ability to present realism, fell into the "boys will boys" excuse for everything from sexual harassment to rape, with the female characters often taking responsibility. I'd be lying if I were to tell you that Miss Ringwald's article changed my views because while reading it, I realized there had been aspects of each movie that adult me felt uncomfortable with. It made me more uncomfortable to realize who I once was.

I grew up in the "Would you say that to your mother?" generation and I'm realizing today, decades later, that very line of questioning is indeed the problem. Why should one's mother be treated with any more or less respect than the woman on the bus, walking down the street or the one you're lucky enough to have a relationship with? John Hughes masterfully pointed out who we were and humanized our quirks, flaws, and failures, but he failed in one sense because he normalized the behaviors that caused them.

Miss Ringwald's viewpoint is different from mine, for obvious reasons, but I respect her, #MeToo and all women who can accept truths, but demand change. Who can be comfortable with our flaws, but demand we change them. The next time I watch Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club or any of the countless John Hughes classics, it will be from a different perspective and my only fear is how I'll feel about younger me, someone I'm already having a hard time remembering.

Below is a link to Miss Ringwald's wonderful article


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Blurred Reflection

There's a line in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby where Miss Squeers asks Phib what he means, which is followed with (roughly)...as she looked into her glass, seeing not herself, like most of us, but the pleasant reflection of how she viewed herself in her own brain. This, as of late, has become more apparent to me, about myself and others

How we view ourselves and how others view us are usually quite different. We tend to be our own worst enemies when we're down and others become our worst when we are up. Is it society? Is it our unreal reality universe that we see on reality TV? Is it our desire to shine or dull on social media, in a desperate attempt to shine a light on our ups and downs? Is it simply cognitive dissonance; something I've personally studied since my life was being ruined by someone else's use of it?

But what happens when we project our skewed view of our own reality onto others? A few months ago a lived with a self-proclaimed OCD having "neat freak." He was the biggest slob I've ever known. From day one until the final day. What about these parents who post anti-bullying memes, but also laugh about wooden spoons, belts, and shoes being what molded them? What about those who believe food from a box is a healthy and fast alternative to fresh food? There are a million everyday examples, so I won't bore you or attempt to shame anyone. We all get tired, once in a while, but when these shortcuts become a habit, we do a disservice to those around us.

I view myself, and in my solitude, I realize my desire for debate isn't done because I dislike people, but because I am good at it. I recently had someone who is essentially a stranger ask me to write something for them. Not because I view them on good terms, but because I can use language that appeals to the reader. I wish I spoke this way, but I know I don't.

The cryptic tone may be off-putting, but there's another reason. I've realized that one of my flaws is believing that honesty is always the best policy. While true in some sense, being quiet holds much more power, in terms of keeping friendships stabilized. The one thing I am realizing in people is that many, maybe even most, view their greatest flaws as their greatest assets. The reason? They never are told their wrong. People, despite social media, un-reality TV, and political correctness, tend to ignore people's flaws as they don't want their imperfections noticed. So bad kids get blamed for bad parenting, which stems from bad grandparenting, which stems from society changing its values, but people not catching up. Most kids are actually pretty perfect; It's their parents and grandparents who are flawed. Don't get me wrong, you don't have to be a parent to be flawed. The mirror is cracked for us all, but there's a point, where self esteem and desire may just become delusion.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I'm Old

I look old. I feel old. I sound old. I'm old. Yesterday it hit me.

Children's safety is more of my concern, than their fun. It could simply be a product of caring and the turmoil of the times, but it feels different. I brace for falls and I've grown past the "rub some dirt on it," phase of macho childcare. I worry about what might happen, much more than what does happen. I plan.

I forget when speaking to coworkers, especially those younger female ones, that I am not seeing what they are seeing. I do not mean this sexually, but in context of connecting to situations we share. I've always worked better with women than I have with me, not for any reason other than I believe, whether I'm right or wrong, that I view things from a more motherly angle than the paternal views. I don't coddle, but I listen. Men don't listen the same way women do. I know that now. I respect 19-25 year old women now, much more than I do others, but the realization my views were different when I was 19-25 bothers me. I can't go back and can't make others move forward. I think I'm old enough to realize now, nobody cares about my life experiences.

Shooting hoops, I go hot and missed people noticing. The kids expected me to do it, because I'm old. The staff didn't care. They glance at their phones, each other or connect with the kids. I was trying to connect by showing I still can. Hours later, I popped ibuprofen, while those who share my title, started their fun. I was in bed by 8:30. My dinner cooking probably was their first two rounds. My nighttime companion much less affection once fed. I'm OK with that part, but do realize the void.

We all with we knew then what we know now, but I wonder at times how I'd have used it. I envy my coworker's youth, their fitness, their style, their intellect, their open eyes and yes, their beauty. I guess what makes me feel old is the knowledge that my wisdom comes from shortcomings, pain and failure, while I envy their hopes, dreams and desires. I look in their faces to see the glow I once had, while my reflection shows the affects of time, like furniture left out over a harsh winter.

I wake earlier and retire earlier. My life more like those close to twice my age. My best friend is a cat. My entertainment is a book, movie or ballgame. Hell, I used the term ballgame, sounding more like my grandmother than my mother. I look to the kids to keep me young and they do. They then run and skip away, as I shuffle, limp and hobble. Looking forward to my bed, before the sun has even set, all for another day surrounded by those who look at my age and can not fathom time in that sense. Some with half their lives to reach this point. Some with much much more.

I'm closer to the end of my life than many are to reaching my age. I'm old. I know it, and I feel it.