Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why Did He Go There?

I have a new roommate. He's 25 and like most people his age, he is wise beyond his ears. Yes, ears was intentional. His intelligence, his profound thought and his life experience is simply something that sounds good; to himself. There's very little substance to it and within his ears, I sometimes question whether there is a light on. Like many his era and younger, he appears to have a strange sense that if you leave something and it's washed, fixed, repaired, assembled or replaced, he has achieved. Many people will blame parenting, society or participation trophies, but I question those people. I also condemn that thought process as being part of the problem. A proverbial out for an entire generation. My feeling is, he simply lacks knowledge in an era, where it's so easily accessible, one must make attempts to appear smart, as to avoid questioning. 

So why am I bashing this young man? Many reasons, but I do have fun with the child, at times. One afternoon I happened to notice a belt buckle he was wearing. It was large, had a cartoonish skull on it and commented, "Oh that's Jack Skeleton. Nice." Immediately, his chin and nose rose into the air and he replied "Skellington. It's from a Tim Burton movie." I paused. Being this was only our second or third conversation, I hesitated, but then realized his condescending correction had given him pleasure. I took a sip of my drink and said "Ah yes, Nightmare Before Christmas. Do you consider it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? Many debate this." He replied "Halloween," and before he could add, I said, "You are aware, it's not technically a Tim Burton movie, right?" He produced and wrote it, but didn't direct. None of the usual muses are in it either. No Depp or Bonham Carter. The actual director has stated that Burton had very little to do with it actually. It's a shame too, because credit Burton, and Burton's ego rarely allows him to correct them. He was busy directing the dreadful Batman movie. So which film of his is your favorite? Do you enjoy the Batman movies, stop motion films or his earlier comedies? Maybe the Gothic stuff, like Sleepy Hollow or Sweeney Todd? I guess Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands cross comedy/Gothic horror genres?"

It was at this point the stuttering began. As he tried to spit out out the word, "Beet...Beetle...Beetleju," I quickly interrupted him, warning him not to say it three times. Then followed it with a mock laugh. An instant later, his nose and chin distinctively lower, he excused himself. 

Was I rude? Of course. Was I a pretentious jerk. Of course, but if there is one thing I have learned in my life, one that has seen the earth orbit the sun twice as many times as his, is that, we should never assume one doesn't know as much as us, simply because they make a tiny mistake. And please don't fret for the young boy. He has since told me about the "processed crap" in my veggie burger, while swigging a Mountain Dew and slurping Ramen Noodles from a cellophane package, described working on cars and heavy construction equipment as "basically the same," and explained to me how my cat, who has little care for deception or perceptions, "isn't as slick as he thinks." This self professed gamer, has a high opinion of himself, which is important, but I do think it masks some insecurities. I do not know the gamer lingo, but my Tim Burton tirade was my ode to the late Frank Vincent's Billy Batts. "Now go get your shine box." Who knows? Maybe how I should have thought about how that turned out for poor Billy.

In Allen Iverson's voice "Movies? You're going to question me on movies?"

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Screen Has Been Too Dark

Every year, since I was young, I have watched movies. Almost every night. I've never been much on television, and rarely as an adult, have I had "my shows." In fact, I've not owned a working television for over seven years. I now have one in my bedroom, but so far, I've only watch sports. Movies are, and always will be "my shows."

In the course of any given year, I will watch approximately 350 movies. I rarely re-watch movie I've seen, but still will do so, if I've forgotten them. This time, last year, I was approaching movie #250. The year before, #240. This year, I've watched a paltry 130. While many may laugh and think of this as much ado about nothing, it has a great impact on my mood. Even more so, I've not had many people to discuss my films with, because nobody I have left in my life embraces the art of cinema, as I do.

I realize this all sounds petty, slightly conceited and incredibly minor, when one looks at the woes of surrounding and within my life, but it matters. It's like that cup of coffee in the morning or hot shower at night. It's that weekend drive, morning run or hour in the gym. It's that kiss on the forehead, mom used to give, after saying goodnight. Yes, it sounds crazy, but it means that much to me, and like most of my life's complaints, the reasons for my not having it in my life are all caused by me.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Hare Of Despair

I love my cat.

Anyone who knows me well, knows in many ways, he's why I exist or quite possibly why I still exist. He sets my schedule. He makes me wonder, worry and at times, most times, makes me feel important. I sense he knows this and there are days he plays this against me and others allows me to appreciated feeling in needed. He senses my moods, when humans can not, but unlike them, he shows deference, always.

He also likes to hunt.

His tally of field mice is in the thirties, and that is merely the number I know of. He has eaten some whole, but usually shows those to me first. He occasionally comes home with feathers stuff to his whiskers. That number is much lower. Being vegan, for moral reasons, the deaths bother me. I then put myself in his mind and realize it's these instincts, skills if you may, that set him apart from humans. He is not doing it for sport, but at times, to feed me. In his mind, I am aloof and can not fend for myself. In most humans minds, we own cats, but I know better. The mice and the birds are his way of providing for me, and he only takes from them what he needs to survive, the rest is mine. I decline, always.

He has a taste for rabbits.

I don't advertise this, because as someone who once had a family member with a pet rabbit, it hurts to see them dead. I only knew of one, until the other night. I had left the screen door open and when I returned, he was trying to get at something. I thought he had brought a mouse back in, but when I heard a noise, I immediately became worried. It was obviously something larger. I moved my night stand just enough to find a tiny rabbit, breathing heavily and on it's side. I scooped it up in a pair of shorts and cradled it. It's breathing was frantic. As I walked outside, I saw a clump of hair. There was more to it, but we'll say hair. I locked the cat inside and stepped out. I placed the rabbit down and unwrapped the cloth. There was blood and the rabbit didn't move. I picked him up. Took him inside and tended to his wounds as if I would a small child. I held him securely and let the cat back out. I laid on my bed and stroked the rabbits head. The breathing slowed and nestled in arms. I know most people would worry about a disease, but that's not how I think. Despite what some would call arrogance, I put others first, always.

My cat was busy taking apart another rabbit. I found scattered parts, innards and fur on the deck. I quickly disposed of it as I'd let him back in. I must have had a lapse of judgment or maybe subconsciously I knew I couldn't save the rabbit and left him for the cat. When I came back in, there was the rabbit, wrapped in a fresh white towel, small body gently raising and lowering and the cat, a few feet away, slumbering, his breath almost in tune with the rabbits. The only breath and heart racing was mine. I cleared out the clothes in a drawer and used bedding from another house pet and created a cave for the rabbit. I fed him leafy greens and water. I think he ate, but I can't be sure.

Morning came and the cat wandered up to the dresser, tried to peak inside and I stopped him. I went through my routine and attempted to check the rabbit. He'd soiled the towel and the small was horrible. I knew I had to make a decision. A phone call provided no help, as they don't take wild rabbits. I thought about what was humane, what was just and what I in my heart could and couldn't do. I couldn't keep him, or maybe I could, but simply didn't wish to watch him suffer. So I picked him up, in my hands. Gently stroking his soft ears. I walked barefoot in the dew soaked grass. It was cold on my feet and the human side of me felt guilt. Would he be warm enough. I placed him in a patch of high grass that looked as though it had been tamped down by tiny feet. I had seen other rabbits there and in my scattered mind, I felt they could help him. I placed him down and he quickly started to flail. I realized that his side was still hurt and he possibly had broken his leg. I turned him over and the calm set in. He laid there, helpless and I felt every ounce of it. As if looking at my own life recently. Tears tolled down my face as I pulled the tall grass over to give him some shelter from the morning sun. I told myself this was the right thing to do, but I know in my heart, I could have done more. I normally do.

I thought about his suffering and almost hoped a larger animal, like of the many hawks flying overhead, had swooped down and done in nature what I didn't have the courage to do. As the sun began to set, I worried he was still out there suffering and I couldn't stand it. I walked back over. The grass not dry and cut into the bottoms of my feet. I almost relished the pain. I deserved the hurt. I found the spot and there he was. I leaned in and  looked at his tiny body. There was no movement. Tears welled up and I apologized profusely. I apologized for myself, not for the cat. As I returned inside, I tried to compose myself. As I splashed water on my face, I felt the familiar soft brush of fur on my ankle. Later that night, as he curled up on my leg, he stared up at my reddened eyes. He let out a sigh and went to sleep. He seems to fully understand my world and realizes I will never understand his. We human try to do "our best," but when it comes to nature, we fail, always.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sixteen Years Later

I know it's probably not as often as I believe, but is it always a high, cloudless, light blue sky on this morning, every year? This morning's, with the sun and the moon both visible, brought back memories, both awful and promising.

 I don't normally post about this and actually, I normally don't post at all on this day, but it's the first year that I've felt we're worse off than we were on this day 16 years ago. Obviously, nothing compares to the horrors of that day, but the country, almost immediately, came together. Those on the fringe, have grown into what is now running the country (and media) and while they are still a minority, they are no longer silent. Their hate is bold and brash, mush like the terrorists from a little over a decade and a half ago.

 It's just an odd feeling for me. As someone who grew up peering out my bedroom window at those majestic towers, I commented a long time ago, about a tangible loss of innocence. I remember when I first felt it, knowing this would never be the same. Knowing that some, even some friends, would harbor ill will towards anyone who looked, spoke and practiced a religion that was different from theirs. Before anyone makes judgments, my first experiences were with the far left. Those who needed to lay blame for creating this. Then there were the moderates, whose confusion spoke volumes about a bigger problem in this country; education. Then the right started and we needed to act, and act we did. I, like many, wanted vengeance. Now our children face the debt of that misguided vengeance and the lives lost in response to 9/11 has far outweighed the losses of that day.

Today, we sit in safety. No real fears of this ever happening again. If the opposite were true, North Korea, Russia and ISIS would truly be a the thing that divides us. No, 9/11 simply opened old wounds. Wounds that are not complex, not uncommon, and not difficult to process. That day reminded a small faction of America, that we were built on erasing those who were different and those we chose to cohabitate, would always be seen as inferior. We even drew up documents to depict this, and while those laws and rights have been changed, the words still exist and for many, THAT is the Constitution.

 I think back to a few weeks after that fateful day, when I was talking to someone who was down at Ground Zero, and they described a much different scene than what was being reported on the news. There was of course, a feeling of great loss, but there was a spirit of rebuilding. Not rebirth, because we are what we stand for, no matter what changes. There was a feeling that we could rebuild, change, and make things better. And we had. The following years, saw us bottom out, but we came back and we came back much stronger, much wiser and much more aware of how others perceive us. I remember a day in 2007, when things were bleak economically and there was a new found air of despair. A conversation with an older neighbor, his politics could not have been more different from mine, and he joked "We just need to end these two wars, and we'll get back to hating each other. Things will be better. You'll see." Sadly, despite our presence in Afghanistan continuing, he was half right. We have gone back to hating each other, but are we better?

 9/11 taught most Americans what a Muslim was. As someone who had taken a class on Islam and has actually read the Qur'an, it didn't teach it well. I hope our children, and theirs, will be taught that it isn't the religion that causes violence, it's the misconceptions about religions, within their own, that causes violence. We are a world that is currently living out of context. Whether it be religion, politics or the every day relationships we have. Nearly all our issues stem from something or things being taken out of context. I'm sure some will read this and think "being political on 9/11, how dare you." Well, if you think about the last 16 years, we've had more people use this day, in a political context to promote hate, than to promote the rebuilding, the growth, the acceptance of others and yes, the greatness, we have already achieved and achieved again, long before 2017.

 I want to end with a completely different comment. A thank you. To all those who ran towards the towers, while others ran away. To all those who escorted those in need to safety. To those police, fireman, EMTs and all the others who acted bravely in a time of chaos. For all those who lost their lives, lost loved ones, became ill due to this horrible event and for all those who did what they could. I also want to point out that there are many who saw things they can never forget. Some of saw those images on television, some in person and some, sadly, still see them. It was a day that has become more pageantry than anything else, but let's remember the hurt, but also remember the time that followed. Despite what caused it, it was a better time.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

2017 NFL Predictions

Yeah, I know, the Chiefs shocked the Patriots and I know Eric Berry is done for the year (Horrible!)
But here it is, one game in
And yes, I realize I've not exactly gone out on a limb with my pick for champion

AFC EAST
Patriots - 2
Bills
Dolphins
Jets

AFC NORTH
Steelers - 4
Bengals
Ravens
Browns

AFC SOUTH
Texans - 3
Titans - 6
Jaguars
Colts

AFC WEST
Chiefs - 1
Chargers - 5
Broncos
Raiders

NFC EAST
Cowboys - 4
Eagles
Giants
Redskins

NFC NORTH
Packers - 3
Lions
Bears
Vikings

NFC SOUTH
Saints - 1
Falcons - 5
Buccaneers - 6
Panthers

NFC WEST
Seahawks - 2
Cardinals
Rams
49'ers

Wild Card 
Steelers over Chargers
Titans over Texans
Falcons over Cowboys
Packers over Buccaneers

Divisional
Chiefs over Texans
Patriots over Steelers
Saints over Falcons
Packers over Seahawks

Conference
Patriots over Chiefs
Packers over Saints

Super Bowl Champs - New England Patriots

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Take A Minute And Remember, It's 2017

I defend every human who comes here and their right to dream about a better life
I defend the LGBTQ community and their right to love, marry and be respected for who they are.
I defend POC and their right not to be treated differently, because of their skin.
I defend Muslims and their right not to be judged by the actions of a few.
I defend the poor, of which I am now one, but very few I know can relate.
I defend a living wage and American's right to achieve some semblance of he American Dream.
I defend women and their rights to be treated as equals, both in the workplace and in society.
I defend everyone's right to vote and believe it should be as easy for each and every one of us.
I defend every child's right to a proper education.
I defend every human being's right to shelter, food and healthcare.
I defend every human being's right to choose what happens to their own bodies.
I defend every human being's right to be happy and feel safe in their world.
I defend everyone's right to speak freely, as long as it a message of peace, unity and equality.

It is 2017 and for many, even those I call friends, I am "the enemy."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Forget His Politics For A Minute

To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.
William Arthur Ward

I'm as critical of Donald Trump, if not more, than most. I don't like his political views, his goals or his ideals, but truth be known, the things that bother me about him most are not political in nature. In fact, the single most telling sign we were headed where we are now, lies in his disposition and it's not something one can fake.

I've never seen a spontaneous photo that shows joy on his face. The joy that comes from looking at your spouse, your child or a beautiful view. I don't like that he doesn't have a dog or a cat, and rumors have it he never has. I don't like that he never speaks candidly about his favorite book or movie, his favorite composer or pop artist. I don't like that despite his great wealth, his lone known piece of art is a portrait of himself. I don't like that he doesn't speak like any other president or that he's incapable of writing in a manner that suits his position. I don't like that he doesn't try to fake empathy, when real empathy is called for. I don't like that I've not seen him with his staff's children or any moment captured  relaxing in anything that resembles reflection. Most of all, and this is, for me, the most damning accusation of character and his fatal flaw, I don't like that he can not do what every president before him, with the exception of Nixon can do, he can not laugh....at himself. He lacks that dash of humility indicative of all of our successful leaders; that ability to recognize infallibility and for the most part embrace the minor moments of disappointment or embarrassment. Despite what some may believe, it's not a sign of strength, but of immense insecurity and something I saw long before Trump the candidate, or Trump the President arrived.