Friday, January 29, 2010

Best Films of the Decade 2000-2009

When I originally wrote this, I had not seen three movies which all were 5-star movies.  After looking at the list, I would now have to bump The Passion of the Christ and L.I.E. from the list.  The Japanese film, Departures, while a 5-star movie would have just missed the list also.  The new list, would look like this.

10. Severance
9. The Contender
8. Lars and the Real Girl
7. Snatch
6. Let The Right One In - the original which was remade as Let Me In.  This incredibly subtle vampire tale is gripping, but terribly sad.  The location plays as much as character as any of the actors and one is left with a feeling of compassion amidst the craziness of the film.  Aside from one absolutely ridiculous scene, it is hands down one of the greatest horror films ever made.  While the remake was great in it's own right, it is merely a reproduction of the same thing (with Chloe Moritz).
5. Hero
4. No Country For Old Men
3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo- hands down one of the best trilogies ever.  This is the one that started it and while, it's head and shoulders above the rest, it truly set the wild tone for the others.  Naomi Rapace gives a performance like no other.  I mean that.  Until this picture, I have always felt that Joan Allen in The Contender was the greatest female acting job.  This changed my mind. Lisbeth Salinger will forever be one of film and book lore.
2. Oldboy
1. The Believer

I honestly believe they should have a GWTDT/Oldboy double feature and watch people's skin crawl.  I needed a shower after both of these movies, because I felt like I had been through a prize fight.

Recently there have been many magazine an TV shows displaying their lists for the top ten movies of the first decade of the new millennium. We all love lists, but I disagree with one in particular. Rolling Stones list. Now while the magazine that represents pop culture has it's own merits, I stand by my mindset that box office draw should not represent anything when it comes to fine movie making. There is the list as seen in Rolling Stone. 1. There Will Be Blood 2. Children of Men 3. Mulholland Drive 4. A History of Violence 5. No Country for Old Men 6. The Incredibles 7. Brokeback Mountain 8. The Departed 9. Mystic River 10. Lord of the Rings (trilogy.

Let me start by saying that I have not seen every movie on this list or many on other lists that seem to be staples of top ten lists. Believe me,I will. The top spot is a difficult sell. There Will Be Blood is a great single performance by Daniel Day Lewis and his performance might very well be seen as one of the ten greatest of all-time in a decade or two, but the movie is fairly boring. The pace is so slow and methodical that at times I wondered when it would be over. This can't happen in the best movie of the decade. I did not see Children of Men or Brokeback Mountain. One, because I hadn't really heard much about it and the other, because I think Heath Ledger is the single most overrated actor ever to grace the silver screen. I was thrilled that the Dark Knight was nowhere to be found on this list. Mulholland Drive is one of David Lynch's better films, but that's like saying "that was a pretty good punch in the balls." It's getting credit, but it doesn't make it good. History of Violence is a shockingly bad movie, because of the incredible cast. Ed Harris is downright goofy and the ending has one of the worst miscasting ever...unless you read further. No Country For Old Men is one of the better movies I've ever seen, let alone this decade. Javier Bardem delivers a performance that quite possibly is only outdone by the great Anthony Hopkins in portraying a villain. Anton Chigurh made me think of a quarter differently, that's how good the movie is. The Incredibles isn't even in my top ten animated films of the decade. I can't figure out the listing. The Departed is a very good movie, what keeps it from being great is the awful performance by Jack Nicholson. It's not Jack's fault, he was terribly miscast as the Irish mob boss. Otherwise the movie is top notch. Mystic River is one of the more confusing movies on any list. I hate this movie. I hate the casting, hated the acting, despite the names, and hated the story. Tim Robbins can pretty much ruin a movie on his own, but in this he had so much help, I was shocked. Finally "the trilogy." I'll leave it at this. In the words of Randall in Clerk's 2, "there is only one trilogy and that's of the Jedi."

So, I decided to compose a little list of my own. I actually had 12 movies that I consider five star movies from the decade. Unfortunately, Crash and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon missed the cut. Here are my ten.

10. The Passion of the Christ (2004) - Now this controversial movie isn't exactly a pleasure to watch. It really takes some willpower, but if you get past what might be deemed brutal or horrid, it's the story of a man who wouldn't succumb because he was told to. The fact that Christians don't like this movie proves one of my many points about religious hypocrisy. It's OK to believe he died for your sins, just don't show me or tell me about how it happened? Jim Cavaziel is absolutely brilliant. I also thought if nothing else, the casting of the stunning Monica Belluci as Mary Magdalen was quite interesting. How could anyone, including the son of God, turn her charms down? For those of you who got caught up in the hype against Mel Gibson, I suggest watching it again, with a more open mind.

9. L.I.E. (2001) - If even the idea of watching a movie about pedophilia bothers you, you might want to skip it. The opening scene, while nothing to do with the subject matter will pretty much let you know that this movie is not going to pull any punches. What this movie does is tell a tale of loneliness. I feel that it's better watched than dissected, but any movie that can make you empathize with a child molester is strong stuff. There are moments you are sickened and moments that are truly tender. Brian Cox and Paul Dano give performances that are remarkable.

8. Severance (2006) - I rented this movie while seeing a trailer for it on another film. I thought it looked kinda funny and scary and gave it a try. What I found was a movie that was half horror, half comedy, and then half holy shit! I know that's three halves, but trust me, if you watch it, you'll understand. This is a horror movie that is taken to a whole other level. Any movie that can show mutilation and death in a funny and scary way is good stuff. Even the extras on the DVD were excellent.

7. The Contender (2000) - Joan Allen. I could leave it at that. She delivers one of, if not the greatest performance I've ever seen by an actress. What makes this movie so incredible is that it's so political without ever taking a side with parties. It is all about perception versus reality and the pride it takes to maintain one's dignity in moments of great distress. The supporting cast, especially Jeff Bridges are incredible. If you don't want to shoot Gary Oldman during this, you're missing something. There is one scene towards the end of the movie that is so subtle and so powerful you are shaken by it. It defines the movie and defines the performances. Allen lost the Oscar to Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich. A very good role, but nowhere near as amazing as Allen's.

6. Lars and the Real Girl (2007) - If you read the snippet on the box cover it explains that a shut-in buys a realistic looking sex doll and develops a relationship with it. The movie is really about true love. Both romantic, family, and general love thy neighbor love. It is so powerful because it's the story of how accepting people could be if they tried. I have seen this movie three times and I have cried my eyes out all three times. Now I will get teased if anyone actually reads this, because of my open man crush on Ryan Gosling, but his performance and especially that of his sister-in-law, played by Emily Mortimer, are so touching it's almost hard to believe that there wasn't a bond before and they are just acting. In the end it's another story about how everyone wants to be accepted and loved.

5. Snatch (2000) - Guy Ritchie's shoot em up follow up to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is much better than it's predecessor. Jason Staitham is wonderful in the lead, but it's all the crazy characters that surround the movie, such as Vinny Jones and especially Brad Pitt that really make this movie what it is. Violent, gritty, and profane, this isn't your grandfather's gangster film. This is craziness personified. The roller coaster that never stops falling. It never dawned on me til now, but I don't even think there is one female character other than Pitt's mother. A joyride in a very fast car!

4. Hero (2002) - Right on the heels of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon came this epic film. It's the story of a man who kills three would be assassins in attempts to stop the unfication of China. The movie is done in a very Kurosawa-like way. Very similar in delivery to Roshamon. The story is told with lots of action, but also lots of color. The colors each represent a different story and become characters themselves. Other than Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, this is probably the most visually stimulating film I've ever seen. Jet-Li, known for his martial arts films is brilliant as is Maggie Cheung and the lovely Ziyi Zhang. This is the kind of movie, you could watch with no sound and still enjoy.

3. No Country for Old Men - When you hear Tommy Lee Jones, you expect a certain kind of gristled tale. Then you add Woody Harrelson and you don't know if you're getting a comedy or something sillier. Throw in Javier Bardem and you expect a love story that is confusing. Nope, this is a story of a killer who will stop at nothing to get back what he wants. A man who found what he wants. A man who wants to kill the killer and a small town sheriff who only wants to be as good as his father. Sounds simple. What it becomes is one of the most intense movies ever made. If you haven't already seen it, you've most likely heard of the coin flip scene. One of the best scenes ever put on film. As I said before, you'll never look at a quarter the same way.

2. Oldboy (2003) - every once in a while we have life experiences that make us change the way we look at things. Oldboy changed the way I watch movies. Since seeing this film, I've probably seen about 100 Asian horror and action films. If you haven't heard, all the American horror films and many of the action films are just bad remakes of Asian, especially Korean cinema. Oldboy starts off simple enough. A man did something wrong and is imprisoned. Only problem is it's in a hotel room for 15 years and he's never told why or who imprisoned him. Once out, he goes for a meal that will make most people turn their heads. It will be one of the most shocking things you've ever seen on film. That is, unless you continue watching. This movie contains more scenes that make you wonder about the craziness of the director Chan-wook Park (who is an absolute genius). The finale is so incredibly disturbing that when I first watched this, I sat alone in the dark for nearly 20 minutes...and then took a shower and tried to scrub away what I felt. It didn't work, so I watched it again.

1. The Believer (2001) - Three years after American History X came out, this little gem starring my man Ryan Gosling arrived. I first saw it about three years ago and only rented it because I liked him in every other movie I had seen him in. It's based on the true story of Danny Balint an anti-Semitic KKK member who revealed to a New York Times reporter that he was actually Jewish himself and that if the reporter ever revealed this fact, he would kill himself. The movie is so incredibly powerful that after viewing it and trying to describe it I told a few people, it makes American History X seem soft. Gosling gives a tour-de-force as the young, confused Balint. I think the thing that is most disturbing about this movie, for someone who grew up in a partially Jewish family is that some of the horrible things that are said, are true. While they are exaggerated to promote the feeling of hate in the movie, there are moments, like when Danny goes to hate counseling and speaks with Holocaust survivors that are shocking on multiple levels. The movie is disturbing, as all movies about hate are, but where American History X is completely one sided in displaying hate, this movie is much more cerebral. Any movie that makes me want to watch it again and again and shows me something new, even when reviewing it in my mind, is important. Definitely my #1 movie of the decade.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Health Care

We all know that this has been the buzz since last year. The election was probably won and lost on this subject and sadly, some people don't get it. We all deserve some sort of health care. Don't we?

To me there are bigger issues than socialized, universal, private, HMO's, whatever forms there are. To me the problem lies with the recipients themselves. People pay into health care in case they get sick, but what if they disregard their health, because they are covered. I think the two biggest problems with health care are unnecessary testing and patient abuse.

A few months ago, 60 Minutes did a piece on why doctors bills are so high for those who are insured. They talked about a man waiting for a liver transplant who was in his late 80's in poor health otherwise, but who was willing to try anything. They tested this man for everything. He eventually got the liver and died days later from something else. His bill, all paid by insurance were somewhere in the neighborhood of $120,000 if I remember correctly. All unnecessary tests. Then there was the woman dying of cancer. Over 90 years old. Her bills were through the roof and the insurance company did an investigation. They received the itemized bills and found things like a pap smear was conducted. All unnecessary. At the end of the story, they came up with this staggering admission. The insurance companies feel that 70% of all procedures and prescriptions are unnecessary. I forget the number of billions of dollars they came up with, but the number was per year. Imagine if half those things weren't done? Insurance could be decreased significantly and probably another 25% of those who are uninsured could afford it. As much as the insurance companies are pegged as the bad guys, they are only doing what they can to offset these rogue doctors.

Further proof of this silly spending is private doctors and their prescription process. I remember a time when "scoring" a Tylenol with codeine was a big deal. These days, I could make about three phone calls and have handfuls of Percosets, Oxycontin, Xanax, Valium and a few other desirables in a matter of minutes. It's that easy. Do these people need these medicines? Very few. These luxury pills cause our insurance premiums to rise just to keep up with the demand.

My biggest gripe of all is people who have insurance who go to the hospital every time them or their kid gets a cold. When I was a two, I got sick a lot. To my knowledge, my mother would deal with it until morning, call my pediatrician and occasionally I'd get something prescribed. Usually dimetapp. Never was I rushed to the hospital unless I was gushing blood. Even then, if it could be butterfly stitched, that was a lost resort as well. After a while, even a broken finger was taken care of with home remedies...plus I got to eat the Popsicle, before we set the finger.

Today the issues are bigger and more costly. We all know people who have cancer or other diseases that will eventually take them, but what about those that ignored the signs. I know too many people with lung cancer, emphysema and other related issues who smoked a pack or two a day. Should we really be paying for their treatment, when it's only delaying the inevitable which they brought on themselves. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, If I get lung cancer or sarcoidosis (my mother had this and she quit the day she found out), I'm gonna be pissed if I can't be treated, but grandma Marlboro man is getting full treatment 24/7. I'm overweight, but my cholesterol and blood pressure are fine. If it wasn't and I was stuffing down hot wings like they were vitamins, I'd be pissed if I was neglected, but the 300 lbs version of Kobayashi is getting taken care. When my liver fails or my kidneys and the doctor says "do you drink a lot?" I'll smile and say yes, help the next person. I don't deserve it.

Many of us will lose loved ones in our lives. Every death is a tragedy, because so many are affected by each ones departure, but hesitate before you criticize health care. Were they being treated for something they knew would kill them? I know it sounds harsh, but they were the ones being selfish, not you or I. So why does a selfish act deserve our sympathies, our hard earned dollars? I think instead of my insurance costing $4000 a year and someone who smokes insurance costing $4500, mine should cost $500 and theirs should cost $8000. Wooooaaaah, you say. Well look at it this way. They are willing to spend $2920 a year on cigarettes (based on an $8 pack/per day)to hurt themselves, why should I split the bill to help them? The same can go for drinking. I'm no hypocrite. I just think if health care was done the way other things, like the credit unions, we'd reevaluate the system and realize those who don't purposely hurt themselves, like children, deserve to pay nearly nothing. Those of us who choose to hurt our bodies should pay more. Terminally ill people should be made to feel comfortable, but checking their blood every day just to see if it's the right color, shouldn't cost $500 a day. A Tylenol in any form isn't $175. If you can't sleep, you should try warm milk first, maybe a turkey sandwich. You shouldn't get a xanax prescription with ten refills.

Let's stop blaming a political party or saying we're better than France and Canada. Let's stop blaming the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for our problems. Let's blame the doctors and patients who abuse the system and do a little audit on them. If you make 12 doctors appointments where you need to be prescribed a z-pak per year, you should be missing 60 days of work and your social life. If you're not, you're part of the problem.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What I Need?

I need a vacation. Nothing fancy. Not a cruise, not an epic adventure around the globe. Nope, I need some me time. I need a few days to myself, maybe some sites, maybe some wandering, maybe nothing. I really don't know. I know I need to wake up, look out the window and see something different. I don't care if it's warm or cold. I don't care if it's picturesque or plain. Honestly, I don't care. I really don't even care if I have company. I need some space anyway. I need to turn the phone off, turn the computer off and enjoy something simple. I'd love nothing more than to rent a cabin with a fireplace and lounge all evening, drinking a nice Port and having some fine goat cheese. I don't even need a TV. Honestly, I need something different.

I've somewhat come up with a plan, but this plan, might include others. I don't know if I want that. Sure I'd love to have female companion, but that's not really all that important. I'd even like a friend of the same sex to tag along, but that might just turn into more of the same. A drunk fest every evening with the following days harder and harder to manage. I've thought of Cooperstown, Buffalo, Niagara Falls. I've thought of D.C., Annapolis, Maybe even Philly. I've thought of greater trips to New Hampshire or Maine or maybe the opposite direction to somewhere warm. Maybe Savannah? Maybe a flight down to New Orleans...before Mardi Gras. Imagine a week alone there? Nothing but me, gumbo, jambalaya, po'boys, etouffee, Cajun everything! Maybe out to San Diego, to enjoy the perfect weather. Maybe Key West, a visit to my friend George's restaurant. Every day his menu, posted on Facebook, gets my salivary glands secreting in overdrive. Maybe I don't need a long trip. Maybe a room in the city. A dinner at some fine restaurant. Maybe it's that kind of new I need. Maybe it's a week off here, in my own little world, experiencing all there is that I pass by.

I don't know when or where I'm going, but I know I'm going. A wacky mix of Iron Maiden, Jack Johnson and Social Distortion blasting over the stereo. The destination really isn't that important. If I go alone it will be the rest, the relaxation, the recharging. I've talked, joked, about going into the wild, but that is careless and self indulgent nonsense. I just need something new. Maybe shock treatment, maybe little fish chewing the dead skin off my toes. Maybe while others are petting a dolphin, I'll pet a skunk. I don't want a cartoon mouse or to be hung upside down from my toes. I want the fire. The wine. The cheese. The peace. Or maybe it's beer, wings and mayhem. Who knows what I need? I know I don't.

Ideas welcome. If you wanna join, you're welcome too. OK not you, but you are.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Facebook Revealing Status Updates

Facebook seems to be here to stay. When I first joined I figured it would be similar to most fads, then like the sun, fade away, only to come back a little brighter, a little stronger, but a little different. This fad isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It allows us to share our experiences, families and thoughts with others. In many ways, it's like this blog, only shorter and usually a little more reserved. Or is it?

It's occurred to me that anyone who stayed awake in freshman psychology can really make a pretty good judgement on someones character, if they know how to read what's really being written. Sometime there's a little dissection, but not always. Reading people's updates everyday has given me some real insight into some people's lives and sometimes their thoughts or feelings. Not sure who reads this anymore, so I'm sure there is a smirk here or there, but I'll explain.

Obviously, I'm not going to out any friends, because they are just that, friends. So there will be no names. I'd worry I'm not clever enough to disguise the target of my comments or someone might see a faux name and believe I'm speaking of them. For the most part I'm making mass generalizations based on the numerous updates I have, and have had to read. I'm guilty myself of sharing a little too much at times. Especially when relationship problems occur. Anyone who catches my updates also knows of my sleep woes, my anger with Scarsdale village occupants and other random topics.

I've picked up on a lot of married couples who mention their girls/guy's night out, their kids birthdays, their dog or cat, but rarely mention their spouses. Now say what you will, this is a sign. I've seen couples I'm friends with go months with no mention of their significant other. Hell, I even mentioned it's complicated a few times, just to stay true to whatever I was staying true to. I just think, if you're in a relationship, good or bad, there has to be some mention of that other person. Right? Or there's the other part. The people who only put the bad things their spouse does. What's that all about. Even the opposite makes me hesitant. Sure, you don't always want to air your dirty laundry on the web, but hey sometimes it's just what the doctor order. Maybe you get a call or a message from someone that brightens your day. Maybe they put things in perspective for you, because when it really boils down to it, we all want to be heard. Sometimes Facebook affords us that luxury, when the people around us don't.

I've also read things that have lead me to believe that some people live in a fantasy world. They state things about their lives that are quite impressive, but these posts seem to happen almost daily. Really, Mr. Bond, you never take any time off do you? C'mon people, for the most part our lives are a routine we've accepted because it affords us a few moments a year we cherish. Am I to believe you are really an everyday Super Dave?

I also somewhat resent the requests from people to donate to this or that charity every single day. Honestly, if I donate $10 to every charity you post, it's $3650 a year. Are you donating that much? I donate to those charities I feel are dear to my heart. I also don't think I have to copy and paste something to support the troops. I am all for our troops, who are battling wars they probably shouldn't. They are dying every day and my heart goes out to their families. Let's not forget they signed up for this. When someone becomes a fireman and dies in a fire, it is a tragedy. No doubt, but they are paid handsomely for signing up for this endeavor. Would I trade places with them, no. For those who think I'm insensitive, my brother is a cop in the Bronx, not in Westchester. He wrestles guns and knives out of people's hands on a regular basis and he doesn't complain. He knows, the longer he's there, the more things stay the same, the chances of him being hurt grow. He signed up for it. He isn't looking for sympathy because his job is scary. I worry about him all the time, but he chose this path. I don't feel it necessary to join every police fan club on Facebook in his honor. He wouldn't expect it, he'd actually be embarrassed by it.

I've put my share of negative comments, but I've also put positive comments on. I really get worried, especially when it's people I care about when I see negative comments day in and day out. Sometimes I worry, that this is more than just an attention seeking ploy, but just maybe, a cry for help. I know that when I went through a rough patch, a select few made sure I was OK. I hate this phrase, but I have tried to "pay it forward" when ever possible. There are also a lot of people I feel really show a lot of hostility to others. I don't feel Facebook is the place to attack others or throw others under the bus. It's a social network, not an area for group attacks on someone due to their beliefs or disbeliefs. Just my opinion.

Finally the quoter's. I do this on occasion, when I feel a certain way and someone else has said it better, but I can't help but think on most occasions it's because people don't have thoughts of their own. Sometimes people I'm pretty sure have Dr. Suess as their poetic background will quote Wadsworth, Frost or maybe even Shakespeare and while it may make a point, it makes me wonder more. I would love to ask sometimes "why, where, huh?" Hey every one's free to write what they want. I'm also free to point my finger and ask those questions.

I look forward to all my Facebook friends new updates, but I'm going to be on the lookout. I also expect anyone who reads this to question me. Jon....... is waiting!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions. Those three words have such a negative connotation. We always think of them and think of things we need to give up or suffer through. Weight loss, smoking, drinking, procrastinating. Honestly, starting anything on the first day of the year is silly. First off, you're most likely coming down from a strenuous night of partying. If not, you have a day most likely filled with football or TV marathons and it's such a nice day to relax. This is not the time to start things. Plus the football playoffs start, so guys, five days of eating cottage cheese is wasted if you spend the last two devouring wings and beer. Every year I say I'm going to get in shape. Every year I do. I get into a bigger oval. There was a time when I had rock hard abs. Not on my stomach, I knew this girl named Abbie. I called her Abs...she was actually a statue, not a real girl. Nevermind. This year won't be that year. This year, my resolutions are all things I'm going to do more of.

The first resolution is to treat myself once a month to something special. It's going to be food for the most part. I want to try a few restaurants that I've been wanting to visit and this year I'm doing it. One of these nights, I'm going to walk through the Kilt and keep going. Right across the street. I have meant to go to Jackie's Bistro for years to try the sweetbreads in Calvados. The escargot. Hell, I may go more than once. I want to go to the Tarry Lodge, which friends of mine came from raving. I of course want to make another trip to Peter Luger in Brooklyn, both for the porterhouse, but also for their infamous beef burger. There are a few others, but I won't bore you.

My second resolution is to keep in better contact with those that matter to me. I've been horrible about keeping up with certain friends. Some live far away, an excuse that many of us use, but with all the technology, is this really a valid one? My good friend Brett and I haven't spoken in ages. Our lives have changed over the year and a half, but I don't know why the phone call has become hard to make. There are others. Many others. Others that get a Facebook post and that is all. The effort must be made. These people are important.

Make my apartment, if I can call it that, a better living situation. As of now, clothes litter the floor, dust collects quickly and sometimes has born on dating from a different season. I shower, I have a kitchen sink being empty fetish, yet the ability to draw in the dust and then not be able to read what I wrote a month later doesn't bother me. I know. My TV had become so dusty, I originally thought American Idol was in black and white this year. I'm not proud. I'm single and male. My bed is to small for guests, if anyone is interested. My mattress is on it's last legs and I'm usually so lazy, I don't even put sheets on the bed, just wrap myself in the comforter. Any single ladies, I hope you've stopped reading by now. I need a new computer, maybe a laptop. My current desk takes up about 10% of my entire apartment. It's ridiculous.

I also have a strange resolution. I'm going to make other people accountable for their actions. I have lost count of the number of times people have asked me to do something on a weekend evening and then cancel on me last minute. Not only is this rude, but it also has on many occasions left me out of plans I could have had with others. People think, because I'm content in going out in the town I live in that I don't have alternative plans. I have found that this frivolous act of cancelling has cost me dearly this past year. Maybe a date, maybe a chance encounter. One never knows what is missed, but I lazily let these actions go. I also think that when people criticize others, they should be able to back it up. I have a rule, don't say anything you won't be able to back up. Sure I tell secrets, we all do. When that trust is betrayed though, I can back it up with facts and instances. Most people can not. I do not fabricate gossip, ever. I share things with people I trust. That trust is often betrayed and I am left having to defend myself. I rarely throw the person under the bus who betrayed me. That might end in 2010. I know the last one sounds harsh, but it's not meant to be negative. I also feel that if people feel the need to tell me my shortcomings, they better be ready to listen to me tell them theirs.

Become smarter. This isn't a resolution. I pride myself on my ability to debate topics. I try not to reproduce some silly thing I read in Wikepedia or a news website. I try to gather information from multiple sources and come up with a clear vision of my beliefs. I waste a lot of time arguing with people who aren't as interested in truth or facts. I've had some lively debates this past year via Facebook and I've enjoyed them immensely. Two people in particular have challenged me so, that at time, I've questioned whether I am right or wrong. That is powerful stuff and the kind of mental stimulation I crave. I want more. See my note about my friend Brett. He's one of those stimulants I miss most.

I'm going to do more with my brother and his wife this year. I love my brother more than anything in the world, but we are different people. I tend to tell him how he should live his life, when the realty is, I hate that myself. I will try and enjoy his company and accept him 100% for who he is. He is not me. Thank goodness, the world doesn't need two of us. It probably doesn't need one of us, but it's stuck with me.

I am not an avid traveler. This year I want to go somewhere, at least once, I have never been. it could be to freaking Toms River, NJ to watch a baseball game, I don't care, just somewhere. I want to soak up everything that place has to offer. It may be a museum, it may be a park, it may be a drive-in movie theater. I don't care. I live in a place that seems to have stopped time from moving. Nobody changes, nobody leaves. I fear I am becoming, or have become one of them.

The other day, while Facebook stalking, I looked at the website of a friend's friend. This was a young girl, obviously quite talented in photography, as well as quite beautiful. I looked at the images of people, places, even every day objects. What I saw in these pictures wasn't the beauty of a shadowy face or a dazzling sunset, but I saw the view of the world from someone else's perspective. It was quite beautiful. It also made me quite sad, because I realized that I've lost that ability to view the world in different ways. To see the beauty of a building or a cloud. It wasn't long ago, I stopped to admire these things. I know it's not too late to get back.

News Years Resolution in a nutshell: Brooklyn here I come!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Goodbye 2009

I've been writing letters to each month thanking them or criticizing them based on how they've treated me. December came and went like none other. I don't even remember anything about December other than my Internet connection going out, followed by my computer breaking, followed by my phone not working...oh wait, it's still not working despite them sending me a new one. December, you sucked!

2009 was a blur. I don't ever remember a year moving so quickly. Is this a sign of old age? Do days just begin to mesh into each other. Or is it because 2009 only had three seasons. We went from Winter to Summer back to Winter. We never really had a spring or a fall. Although this winter really wasn't that hot either. Global warming is fucking with us.

This year started off with a bitter cold January and February. Work was good and life was going at a decent pace. Then the wheels fell off. It seemed like we had the most perfect weather for about eight months. This is great in every aspect, but one. I work for a heating and air-conditioning company. Apparently perfect weather causes phones to stop ringing which causes mine to ring or beep with a message of "sleep late." Always a good thing in every aspect, but one. Money! So I managed. I cut back on going out, I made dinner instead of buying it. I lived a normal life. I can't even remember the summer. Did I do anything? I don't remember.

I do remember August. August was a rough month. I've already spoke too much about this and don't want to beat a dead horse. All I can say is that I hope a certain someone is happy. It's all I ever wanted. Sure I wanted to be part of it and the unexpected turn of events still baffles me to this day, but she's a good person. I want her to know that I don't hold any animosity, just curiosity. She's a beautiful person and I'm happy I had the small amount of time I did with her. I'll always be thankful of that. Some things are just not meant to be. A lesson I learn all too often.

August also shook me to my core. My friends little son had surgery. It was serious. He's fine now, but I can't put into words how worried I was. It made me realize how precious some people are to me, even if they or I don't always show it. My good friends are my family. I hope they know that.

September was filled with mixed emotions, but was capped with my brother's wedding to his lovely wife Diana. It was a beautiful weekend. I'm not saying it because it was my brother, but it was truly the first wedding I have enjoyed start to finish. The entire day was perfect (aside from me sweating to death). I ended the night in fine fashion. Waking in me car in the parking lot wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The after party went way too late. I will never know if there was a missed opportunity that night, but it didn't matter. The day couldn't have been any finer. I'm so happy for both my brother and my new family member, Diana.

The holidays were interesting. A Thanksgiving road trip to Ithaca was quite enjoyable and overly relaxing. It was just what the doctor called for. As Christmas approached I become a little sullen. I didn't really have that festive vibe. I spent Christmas day by myself. This was my choice. A correct choice in retrospect. I spent the evening with some friends and the rest of the weekend was a bit of a party.

The year ended with some sad news. A friend lost his mother to cancer. Another friend was diagnosed. It was a rough year for friends of mine. Quite a few lost family members and quite a few became sick. Sometimes I wish I could take their pain and let them be at peace. I know the feelings of finding out someone has a sickness. I also know the feeling of losing that person. It is a tough deal. One is so shocking and one is so devastating, even when you know it is inevitable. I don't pray, but I think about these people every day. I'm not always good about contacting people. I sometimes feel I get to emotional when discussing their problems, especially when it happens to be cancer. I just hope they know I care about them and think about them every day.

2010 has arrived. New Year's Eve was a fun time. The evening ended early for me, but that was my choice. I wanted to enjoy the following day. The football, the fun, the friends. So I sit here on January 2nd, a whole new year in front of me. I don't make resolutions because making a plan sets you up for failure. I will take what 2010 throws at me and react with my head and my heart. I hope the obstacles aren't as great as in this past year, but regardless of what is ahead of me, I am ready. I will try to be a little more fiscally responsible for my own good. I will try and become a little more to my needs and a little less to others. Yes, that sounds selfish, but I find I give a lot more of myself than I get in return. I think maybe, being selfish sometimes isn't a bad thing. I don't know, I've never tried it. I look forward to it.

2010 started off pretty good. I spent the first day watching a game with a good friend. I followed that up by hanging out with some other friends. I met someone, who if I had my wits about me I might have been a little more aggressive in getting to know. She said she'd look for me when she was back in town. Who knows if this was true, but it was nice to hear. I'll say this; for a guy to meet a girl, buy her a drink and have her reciprocate, it definitely makes you feel good. Maybe I misread her like I do most women. Maybe I'll never see her again. But you know what. For a few minutes, maybe hours, it was nice to be in someones company like that.

2010...bring it on.