Friday, March 29, 2013

Routine

We all claim to despise routine. We see ourselves as vigilantes towards the mundane.  The reality is that it is not ours which we despise, but conforming to others.  I am a night owl, so the daylight hours bring me nothing but headaches and real world drama that warrants my attention. I desire not, to take long walks and look at birds. I don't like sipping tea, while gazing lovingly at the beautiful women who pass by.  I desire none of that.  I desire my bed; alone with my daydreams.  Dreams of evening filled with caviar, pate and champagne appetizers.  Stimulating conversation on which classic is superior, Citizen Kane or Texas Chainsaw.  Biting into lamb chops while listening to Beethoven, Bach or the Black Keys.  Sipping a Cabernet while listening to someone tell me of their child's first steps, while slightly ignoring them to gaze in wonderment at the girl across from me.  I wish to end my dreams, not with some debaucherous orgy, but with two people, sitting by a fire, sipping port and munching on an English Stilton or maybe some chevre.

To conform to societies wake at 7, in bed by 11 world is not for me. I've taken many an overnight job, to try and inject that heroin like fix, of dancing in the darkness.  Was there some vampirical bat that sneaked in one night and changed my into who I am?  Why must I eat bagels and eggs at in the morning?  Why not at 2?  Why must dinner be on the table the same time every evening?  "You're invited," they say, explaining my arrival is expected at 6.  I enter, the smell of stew simmers on the stove.  My mind races as, I see the enormous bowls, licking my upper teeth, to make sure the evidence of my last meal, eaten only moments ago, is gone.  Dessert by 7, maybe 8. Home by ten after some idle chatter and a Bailey's.  10 and their night is over as I set off into the night to start my day.  

They say suns rays bring happiness and life, but it's the darkness that inspires me.  The things that can't be seen have always interested me more than those which are always apparent.  Strange noises stir my mind.  No car horn or train whistle to remind me of the robotic lives we lead.  The purr of a cat, the hoot of an owl and the strange noises of an old house, it's secrets never showing themselves.  The heat from a pipe hisses, images of a floor of snakes, ones that would never show their fangs in the light. The crunch of the ground outside, I pull the curtain back, two eyes stare, we share a moment, two nocturnal beasts hunting for different things, they for food, maybe even shelter and I for meaning.  

The darkness begins to fade and light tries mightily to force it's way in. My eyelids get heavy.  It is my time to rest, to regain my strength to deal with the others.  To face a world that doesn't know what I know; the magic of the dark.  I see a pretty face and I smile.  She looks as if she entered into the darkness longer than she wanted.  She has conformed and her lack of sleep is apparent.  My hand reaches, to invite her in to my world, but then I refrain. Will she bring me into hers and make me like all the others.  Daytime zombies, hell bent on keeping a routine for which I have no use.  I take a sip of my coffee, a bite of a bagel, I look down, hoping they don't see that I am not like them. 

Quickie Review - Bully (Documentary)

I had my Netflix copy of Bully at home for a two weeks and didn't get around to it.  I finally watched it on Monday and it's taken me this long to write about it.  Here was my issue.  I didn't want to watch it when I was going to see my kids the next day.  With a week off, I figured I'd watch it and then react with an open mind.  It's taken me four days to get around to it.

First off let's get to the topic.  School bullying.  It's a topic that is nearly impossible to study for a multitude of reasons, but the reality is, it's been around forever and we've accepted it into our lives, just as we have sexual abuse and multiple forms of discrimination.  What we don't like to talk about is the effects of bullying, because they are, at times, catastrophic.  The movie tackles all of them.

Bully, as far as documentaries go, is not exceptional in it's delivery or it's editing.  Watching the bonus material will explain what I mean.  Where it is exceptional is in it's honesty.  These kids stand no chance, not only in school, but in life, if this behavior continues.  These kids will end up stressed, abused, six, substance dependent, depressed and in extreme cases, dead or maybe even murderers.  The movie tackles this on a lower lever with my second thought, but full force on suicide.

I wish for everyone to see this movie.  I feel it should be mandatory for school children  The problem is the ratings board slammed it with a PG-13 rating (originally an R). The reason "abuse and violence against children that some might find disturbing."  This is the irony of the world we live in.  It's accepted that it is done, but not acceptable that it is viewed.  The movie will make anyone cry. It will make you feel for those being bullied and I would assume, would make bullies sick of their own behavior. There is one scene where we see an 11-year-old crying at his best friend's funeral and then him talking about his own bullying ways when he was younger.

There is no salvation in this movie.  Aside from one character, who became popular, only due to notoriety, the rest of the people, moved from their homes, tried to rebuild their lives, while under counseling and a father and mother who lived with the memory of their child and are trying to make a difference. I hope everyone can find the time in their lives to view this, because it's not only about kids lives, but our own humanity.  Children who bully grow up to be bullies.  Their victims grow to be victims most often.  I can't imagine if I had seen this in 4th or 5th grade, how much it would have changed some people's lives.

There are aspects of the film that I didn't like. Some points made to vague and some to clear (with prejudice), but to see the effects on the families involved was truly heartbreaking. Please, if you have children, see this film.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ask Yourself One Question - Marriage Equality

We've all been there.  Maybe it was in high school. Maybe it was college or after.  Hell, maybe it was in 6th grade.  Remember that first time, you had a special someone and it ended and you had no control and neither did they.  I remember leaving my school in eighth grade.  I knew I'd only be miles away, but deep down I knew I'd never get to date Jenny.  We'd been in school for five years together and I had a crush on her for two. Distance tore us apart. Then there was the girl in high school.  I liked her, but she didn't like me that way.  Friends I was told.  The pain consumed me.  I laid awake thinking about her.  It wasn't meant to be and I had no control and it tore me apart.  The girl in college.  I liked her, but my age wasn't what she was looking for.  She was 19 and I was 26.  Age tore us apart.  The girl in camp, I was too afraid to talk to. Years went by and who knows if she was interested. I was afraid of having my heart broken.  Fear tore us apart.  The girl I thought was the one.  Her baggage, plus mine, made it so a brief vacation for her, turned into the last time were together.  Circumstances tore us apart.

The last three days I've thought about all the loves I've had.  Some brief. Some long.  All mattered in my life. All taken away by some force of nature, circumstance or timing that I couldn't for one second control.  It tears me apart just thinking about it now.  I think about every one of them and what could have been.  What if that timing was perfect and the stars were aligned and then something magical happened?  We fell in love or stayed in love.  We lived happily ever after?  Then, what if all those stars, were suddenly struck from the sky.  What if because these women were men, I was told it wasn't legal for us together?  What if our love was so strong it bonded us like no two other had ever been bound together?  What if that love was deemed illegal?

When we are young, we are patted on the head, maybe hugged and told by our mothers and fathers that one day we'll find our true love and spend the rest of our lives happily married.  Our two souls, becoming one, for eternity.  Now what if that dream of love was taken away, because of something we couldn't control.  What would we do? Would we give up?  Would we turn our backs on our hopes and dreams?  Would our friends and family abandon us, because a small percentage of powerful people in our society viewed our love as vile and a sin? Would we abandon each other?

Of course we wouldn't.  Nobody should ever have to be ashamed of who they love.  That is what we are asking people to do.  We are asking little kids who have grown up to accept their parents as liars.  We're asking them to accept that they are so different they can't have what most of us have.  We're asking them to admit their differences are unnatural.  We're asking them to accept that our religions, our governments and society in general doesn't view them as equals.  We're asking them to accept that all men and women aren't created equally and they are those which are unequal.

Now ask yourself one simple question.  Would you accept this for yourself?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy Blog

I feel at peace right now.  Had an absolutely unexpected and delightful conversation with someone tonight

I talked to someone at length that I have seen a million times, but never really talked to.

I stood my ground today.

I spent more money than I planned, but all on things that matter.

I am tired. It's 2am and I hope to sleep til 10

Thursday, March 21, 2013

OCD In All The Wrong Places

I am becoming obsessive compulsive about all the wrong things.  I needed to find something today, but couldn't.  Did I look this evening?  Of course not.  I had three phone calls I should have made today, I made one.  I needed to do about six loads of laundry and my apartment needs a serious cleaning.  I did two loads and tried to find out some information about some random thing I started looking up the night before.  I spent 30 minutes trying to find an article I read a few days ago.  I'm a mess.

Tonight, I had a direct plan.  Speak to my father between 7-7:30. Start dinner and eat it.  Sit down and watch a movie from 8-10, another from 10-12, then one from 12-2.  Then go to sleep.  I was dead set on this being my evening.  I called my father and there was no answer.  So I made dinner. I ate dinner and started a conversation online with someone.  Next thing I know it's 8:45.  I start my movie. My father calls.  Now it's well past nine and I'm back to my movie.  11:15, the movie ends and I start a blog. I need to put down some thoughts on the movie.  Two hours later, I'm researching a poem in the movie, an artist mentioned and information on the Ottoman Empire, because in my mind, they all play crucial roles in deciphering the movie and help my input on a blog that maybe 10-15 people in the world will ever see.

This is what I have become. I am so tired of the mundane conversations I have on a day to day basis.  The every day discussions about nothing.  I miss talking about kids and my day with people.  I miss telling the funny stories.  I share some, but many are lost in translation.  My incurable necessity to learn everything about something, so I know more than the next person is making me a bit of a dick, because the reality is, people don't care about facts and figures anymore.  They are interested in the topic of the day, then they are done with it, forever. Nothing is absorbed anymore.  I'm the same, but my failure is that I can't remember anyones name anymore.  I've met people 10 times and lose track of who they are, because it doesn't matter.  They aren't in my life, they are window dressing.  They are the person of the moments and my topics of the moment don't matter either.  I'm obsessed with hearing about things that are new, that open my eyes, but the sad reality is, the conversations that have come about recently are all recycled small talk.

So tonight, my seven hours of planning, boiled down to about three hours of execution and four hours of my striving to know something new, with this morose feeling I'll never have anyone to share it with.  Time for bed.  Maybe my dreams will allow me to share all my new found ideas.

Movie Review - Cosmopolis

When I first saw "starring Robert Pattinson," I declined.  Then I remembered who wrote the novel (Don Delillo - White Noise, Libra and Underground) and decided to give it a try. Cronenberg's direction and a friends suggestion helped my decision.

Usually, I refrain from any spoilers, but I need to break this down myself, so feel free to skip this if you feel it will sway your views.  I'm writing this, because the reviews I've read, even those of professional movie critics, such as Roger Ebert, seem to have missed the point.  Maybe I'm the one who has and the movie is just as simple and somewhat scattered as it appears.  I'm not basing any of this on any reports or reviews, but on some quick research, I did right after viewing, in many ways to make sure I understood it.

My feelings are that the movie has nothing to do with Eric Packer, Pattinson's character.  Everyone in the film is a group of people, a corporation, a government or more likely, an empire. It's my feeling that all the things that happen to Packer in one day are the combination of a larger crisis, drawn out over years.  It's important to understand that the book was written during the beginning of the decline of the Euro and the film was made during the Occupy Wall Street era.  The anarchy in the movie, while somewhat prophesied, is real.  This film is about the 1%, maybe even the top 1% of that 1%.  It's about the people with so much money, that their decisions, no matter how hastily made, can result in economic destruction.  Packer's headquarters are referred to as the Complex and his car serves as his office, slowly meandering through the city, as his fortune dwindles. All the characters that come through the movie seem insignificant, but represent different aspects of  wealth and power.  There is even symbolism in the names.  Packer's new wife shares the same last name as someone who is a powerhouse in global economy.  His limo driver is Ibrahim, head of the Ottoman Empire for a short time and almost brought it to it's demise very quickly.  Everything in this movie seems to be a metaphor.  The lifespan of people is irrelevant in terms of years, because our protagonist explains we're dying every day, maybe even every second.

As the movie draws to a close, we see Packer losing hold of reality.  When he's doing anything, even having sex, he's thinking of his demise.  He has not true feelings, but seems at times desperate to feel.  Much like the governments around the world, especially ours, which has lost that ability to feel for it's citizens  As Packer confronts and accepts his "imminent danger," we realize that this character, is merely his alter ego.  He's the 99%, who understands all that Packer does, but doesn't have the ability to attain the riches.  Packer even states, "We're all one second from riches."  The movie ends, with the assumed assassination of Packer and his complete downfall.

Two other important aspects, I learned after the movie was over.  The movie starts with a portion of a line from a poem called Report from the Besieged City by Zbigniew Herbert.  The quote is "a rat became the unit of currency."  This line plays a role in the film, but there is a line later in the poem that states "if the city falls but a single man escapes he will carry the city within himself on the roads of exile, he will be the city."

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/report-from-the-besieged-city/

There is also a scene where Packer has sex with Juliette Binoche's character and they speak of Rothko's art.  Packer is offered the purchase of one painting, but he wants the Rothko Chapel.  A place of serenity, which he wishes to place in his apartment.  Rothko is known for his abstract art, which usually shows to rectangular figures of varying shades and depicts bold contrast.  Further leading me to believe that everything that is seen is unreal, everything Packer represents is about to crumble and further describes the differences between the haves and the have nots. Much like the excess enjoyed by those in power, those very few, in the Holy Roman Empire, one power can not avoid it's eventual destruction.

I could go on and on, but some of you might actually want to see the movie and get your own feelings and definitions of what you just saw. One warning, the dialogue is quick and filled with things that can either be taken at face value or perceived on a more grand scheme.  Every little action is an explanation of a thought.  Every line seems important, even when appearing no more than frivolous banter between two colleagues.  I'm sure I'm leaving plenty out, but I'm sure the ten people who read this won't mind.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wanting Things

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the things I don't have.  Way too much to be honest.  I don't mean materialistic things, because that isn't a care for me at all.  I mean the little things in life.  It dawned on my recently how long I've been without a significant other.  I was happy with it for a bit, but the other night, while at dinner with seven couples, it kind hurt a little.  The little things like feeding someone a bite of your food, the little hand on the knee or a quick kiss on the cheek.  Those are the things I was missing. I love my freedom, but I also remember how much better I slept at night, knowing someone else was in my life.  I also miss my brother terribly.  We had started to spend a lot more time with each other, because he was doing me a favor and we spent a lot of time with my dad and grandmother.  He's joined the Army and it sucks not being able to call him up.  That combined with the fact, I'm terrified he'll be called to serve abroad, has truly stressed me.  I miss my grandmother.  It hurts knowing that next week when I visit my father, I'll probably be sleeping in her old bedroom. It hurts knowing I wont be sipping cocktails with her before dinner and listening to her stories. All my grandparents are gone.  It's quite sobering.  It also dawned on me I don't have a best friend. When we reach our forties, those are our spouses. Don't get me wrong, I have great true friends and pretty decent hang out buddies, but I truly don't have that one person, no matter what who I turn to.  What I do now is a combination of keeping it within and discussing it with the person of the moment.  Many times they don't know the real me and see my concerns, complaints, desires, obstacles in a way, that makes me realize I've chosen the wrong ear to listen.  I also miss not caring.  I know that sounds like a very horrible thing to say, but I miss not caring so much about the atrocities surrounding me; Us.  The more I read about rape, murder, sexual discrimination, hunger, poverty, illiteracy, the more I lose faith in ever being happy.  I've lost my inability to read or hear about these problems and let it go from my mind. Maybe if I had a true love, could call my brother and visit my grandmother, these things would all go away.  I know they wouldn't, but it would be nice to spend a day and not have them in the front of my mind.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Twilight Saga - Finally Thoughts

Usually I steer clear of things I know I'm going to hate, but when the first Twilight came out, I have to admit I was intrigued by the movies.  I knew women my age who couldn't put down the books and there was no way I was sitting down to read an 800 page love story, knowing there was a 650 page sequel or more.  Sp way back, about five years, I somewhat begrudgingly sat down for the first installment.  What I found was all the perfect components of the teen love story.  Much like those of the past, even some from the great John Hughes, the teens are well older than they should be and we suspend disbelief and realize these kids are living crazy lives.  Oh and some are werewolves and some are vampires.  Like I said, you must go into it with an open mind.

Any historian of film and literature understands that the vampire tale is one of torment and lost love.  R.W. Marnau's Nosferatu probably epitomized the struggle.  The ever living man, torn between his desire for love and his thirst for blood.  His knowledge that he will never find love.  Twilight takes all the rules of vampires and throws them out the window   By the end of the series, if you don't think about it too much, the vampires stand in front of mirrors, hang out with werewolves and kiss in the sunlight.

Don't get me wrong about this franchise.  It is filled with peaks and valleys and littered with some of the worst acting and worst screenwriting you'll ever see.  When the young protagonist yells "Nessie, you nicknamed my child after the Loch Ness Monster?" The belly laugh incurred was uncontrollable.  This unintended comedy, while not a highlight for most, was what made me like the movies.  Gathered are a bunch of pretty below average actors, who are making millions and having the time of their lives.  With the exception of maybe the father, played by Billy Burke, the acting is plastic, sometimes bordering on the worst you'll ever see.  There is almost no chemistry between the two leads, who actually dated in real life, but this adds to the "vampire-feel."  Here's where the film gets it right.  There are some damn fine looking people in this flick and speaking from a man's point of view, last night getting to look at Ashley Greene and Myanna Buring for two hours, did not stink.

So where does Twilight stand, now that I've seen them all. It's average, but that makes it likable.  The initial episode is above average, the second installment is mediocre, the third is enjoyable, the fourth is terrible and the finale wraps everything together nicely and does so in entertaining fashion.  One should not underestimate the wonderful overacting of Michael Sheen, who is normally a brilliant actor, having fun, making a mockery of his own character and doing so deliciously. Oh, and I do not know if this played true to the book, but watch closely at the end, when Alice has her vision, because if you really think about it, it's the "what the fuck" moment of all-time.  Not since the girl who had the abortion getting back with the jerk in Last American Virgin or the final scene of Sleepaway Camp has there been a more shocking moment and it's done so in such a way, most probably didn't even notice.  Trust me, it's scandalous.

For those of you who question my judgement and think I'm downplaying how bad it is, when it is truly bad, remember this.  Even the Star Wars trilogy had it's mediocrity.  Return of the Jedi, was eh, at best and the acting was awful,  but as a whole the trilogy stood up.  The Godfather trilogy is the best there ever was, even with the average at best third installment. The Jaws series ended up terribly, but the first two are incredible. Every long standing series will have its pitfalls, but the reality is, Twilight is actually a decent ride.  It pains me as a 42 year old man to admit it, but if I was in my teens to early 20s, these movies would define my generation in terms of the teen love story, which has become a lost art, unless you're willing to delve deep into independent movies, which paint a much darker picture of the teen years I lived through.  Twilight combines two genres and actually makes it work. Let's just hope it's really done.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Interesting Things I've Learned From Facebook Conversations, Debates and Stalking

I'm going to try and divide this into a a bit of all aspects of all three categories in the subject line.  Some are incredible.  Fairly obvious in fact.  Some are quite shocking, even if only to me.  This isn't purposely pointed at anyone in particular, despite some obvious examples, but just stuff that has come to my attention through getting to know people better and getting to know what makes them tick. Sometimes it's what makes me tick.  I'll try to list and not get into too much detail as not to make anyone who might read this think it is about them.

I'm amazed that the most outspoken people on Facebook, no matter what the topic, write comments that are nothing more than paraphrasing other's thoughts and feelings.

Most people who have criticized my culinary choices aren't in great shape themselves in a variety of ways.

Religion and Politics are only taboo, because they are the two topics most people are completely uneducated about.

Guys who post about sports constantly, probably play less sports than those who don't seem to care.

The hottest girlfriends of girls I've known for many years, I've never met.  I'm pissed at all of you.

The same people who are complaining about the snow will be complaining about the excessive heat in the summer. With some exceptions.

The people who post the most pictures of their kids, complain about their kids less than those who don't.

People who get mad at my comments about religion, politics, education, parenting and pretty much everything else seem to be filled with hate....for Spelling and Grammar.

I've more people than I can count tell me I'm right about my views, but refuse to argue, because they fear someone will cross the line in insulting them and they aren't as "nice" as I am.

I've had about ten people ask me if I am gay since I've joined Facebook, strictly because I am pro gay rights.  That's 2% roughly of my friends who simply can't accept my feelings about homosexuals.

I have a couple of vegetarian friends who have confirmed (with medical links), vegetarians biggest stress in life is their incessant talking about their lifestyle.  To the point where they increase their stress levels.

Nobody on Facebook ever mentions to their friends to read a great book, see a great movie or see a play ever. OK, maybe not ever, but the times are very few.  Why don't we want to share our enjoyment with others?

Facebook has taught me that about 1/4 of my friends are closet racists and bigots.  So much closeted that many of them don't even realize it.  Maybe it's been instilled from such a young age, but it's very apparent and not just to me.'

Since the election season, I have probably received about 30 direct messages from people I do not know telling me personal things about those I have debated.  I have only brought up one item and it wasn't in anyway a betrayal of trust, just a generalization.

As someone who truly battles insomnia (and I know I'm beating a dead horse), it infuriates me when someone who didn't get a full seven hours posts about their insomnia.  During the holiday season, I went a stretch of 120 hours with seven hours of sleep.  People who had a bad night, don't have any idea how that feels.  Although it pales to my college record of 127 hours straight....I was delirious and thought someone made me a sandwich.  I was typing with the computer off.

If Facebook pictures have taught me one thing, girls who are under 30 have new best friends every other week and women over 30 have friends for life.  Boys under 30 have friends for life, men over 30 act like boys with the same friends

Four people have unfriended my for my political views.  One is back. One isn't but we agreed we're still friends.  One is still angry with me, but the shoe shoot definitely be on the other foot.  I forgave and forgot.  One I can only assume is still a friend.  I've unfriended four people because of politics.  One cursed and called me names, but I consider him a friend, just can't trust him on my page.  One cursed at good friends of mine. One was so painfully stupid, I couldn't take it anymore.  He also wasn't a friend of mine  One, I truly believe to be mentally unstable, but I don't make this assertion without some background information.

People who have Facebook and haven't updated or posted in their page are living in a house in the woods plotting all of our deaths.  OK, Maybe that's a stretch.

People who aren't on Twitter are missing out on so much more fun and information....minus kid and pet pics!




Thursday, March 7, 2013

Movies I Need To See Again

I try so very hard not to waste time watching the same movies over and over, because I'm obsessed with all the wonderful movies I've yet to see.  Sure there will be bad ones, but the good ones make it all worth the wait. All that being said, there are some movies I really need to watch again.  Some because they are so wonderful and I want to be reminded of true cinema greatness and some simply because I think I saw them at the wrong time in my life.  Maybe I wasn't mature enough or maybe it's because they didn't speak to me, due to a lack of life experience.  Whatever the reasons, here is a short list of movies, I need to give another shot.

The African Queen - One of the greatest movies ever made and one of cinemas greatest displays of chemistry.  Hepburn and Bogart are incredible together.  For years this was my #1 favorite movie and I'm embarrassed to say it's been nearly 15 years since I've seen it.

Moby Dick - I was recently discussing the fact that this movie should be remade. With all the CGI stuff available, this could be incredible.  The tale itself though is thickly laden with metaphors and the original, with the brilliant Gregory Peck still resonates.  I've only seen it once before and I must admit, I didn't understand any of the underlying themes when I viewed it or when I read it.  Melville's classic needs an upgrade, but first I need to see the 50's version again.

Vertigo - Hitchcock's greatest film according to most and recently replaced Citizen Kane as AFI's greatest movie of all-time.  When I heard this, I looked at my Netflix rating and saw that I had only given it two stars. I haven't seen it since my teens and might have to give it a more educated look.  I could say this about all Hitchcock films, as I am not a fan of any of his work, aside from Rear Window.

The Crow - While I liked it the first time I saw it, I found it to be a little silly.  Now that movies like Sin City have come out, I might want to look back at this dark cult classic.  I remember the acting being horrid, but then again, The Warriors is now comical, but still one of my faves.

Being There - Now that I get black comedy, I think it might be a little more interesting.  I had the misfortune of seeing this heavily nominated film at the age of nine.  Probably not mentally aware enough to get it.  Plus, Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine are in it, so how bad could  it be?

There are some others I've considered recently, based on hating them when I originally saw them and never going back, such as Gangs of New York, A Few Good Men, Grapes of Wrath and a few Hitchcock films. I just fear that if my opinion hasn't changed, it will be two to three hours of new movies I will have lost out on







Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Super Quick Review - Sleep Tight (No Spoilers)

To tell you anything about this Spanish thriller would ruin the movie.  Cesar is a concierge.  He has a bit of a thing for Carla.  Carla is a young beauty, happy with life, but troubled by a secret admirer.  Then there is Ursula, Carla's neighbor across the hall, who is a only a child, but plays a major role in Cesar's life.  Sleep Tight isn't like most movies.  In the first 10-15 minutes, you'll see why.  As the movie builds to one of it's many climaxes, we see the unraveling of each character in ways never expected, especially to U.S. audiences.  One of the more subtly tense films you will ever see.

The Best Untrue Things I've Read on Facebook The Last Few Weeks

In the category of "You Can't Make This Shit Up," the awards go to these things posted in the last two or three days.

"Barack Hussein Obama is Muslim." - The author's reasoning - His middle name

AC Delta Electric Co. Inc has a picture of it's van.  On the back of the windows it says # of employees under Bush 37 # of employees under Obama 2 - The author's reasoning - probably because he's a racist, but it's unclear since I don't know the person.  Only one small problem with AC's claim  The company started in 2010.

"Obama is allowing illegal immigrants into this country at a record pace." - The author's reasoning - unsure, but between January 2009 and today, more illegal immigrants have been deported than under any president, including those who served two terms. The total population has actually slowed to the same levels of the 70's and 80s. It spiked from 1990-2009, especially under Clinton.

"Obama doubled the deficit." - The author's reasoning? - He thinks Obama is the worst president in our nation's history.  He also despises math.

Multiple claims about abortions: - Multiple author's reasoning - religious, political and personal views

"Most women who get abortions are uneducated."  - almost between 55-60% have some college."
"Women who get abortions don't have Jesus in their life."  - nearly two thirds of all abortions are performed on Christians, with Roman Catholics being the highest percentage.
"Women are using abortion as birth control." - More than half the women used birth control when they got pregnant.  If the average woman used abortion as birth control, they would average three abortions per year.
"Women who get abortions don't understand the gift they are giving up." - 60% already have one or more children.

"The soda ban is unconstitutional, because the government shouldn't be allowed to control what we eat, regardless if it's bad for us or not." - The author's reasoning - a complete hatred for Mayor Bloomberg and a misconception that the government doesn't control what we eat already.  See FDA, which actually has lower standards for organic farms and deems free range as any animal that is allowed to walk freely an hour a day. Similar to prisoners on death row.  Also, killing yourself is not a civil liberty.

"The wars started over a decade ago have only cost $1.3.trillion dollars, so you can't blame the deficit on Bush, it's all Obama's fault." - The author's reasoning - the author is correct in that 1.3 trillion being spent on the wars. There's one problem.  When that number is used, it doesn't count certain things.  Our rebuilding Iraq, the money allocated to medical service here and abroad for our military and for our enemies civilians (of which 225,000 have been killed) and the money given to Pakistan during this time (nearly $400 billion - not exactly money well spent by either President involved).  The estimated true cost is upwards of $4 trillion and counting.  The majority of that money being spent under Obama's tenure for obvious reasons.

"The US is becoming a welfare state and it's the biggest hit to the economy." - The author's reasoning - this is what we have been bludgeoned with since the GOP started their campaign in 2010.  The reality is, actual welfare recipients make up a paltry 4% of our country, of which 1/3 are off of it within six months and almost 2/3 within two years  It is also, only 3% of our annual budget.  If you add food stamps (and I will admit, I found this number on a conservative website before confirming it) the total cost is less than 9% of our entire budget. 9% of the budget aiding nearly 50% of our country.

Countries with universal health care spend more money on health care than us, but where do people go when they need surgeries?  The authors reasoning - Hating Obamacare and feeling universal medicine is just the beginning of some socialist uprising.  The fact is, countries that have universal health care claim it is at most, 4% of the GDP and all residents are covered.  Our system costs the government 7% (and rising) and over 80 million Americans have no or minimal health coverage.  In the 80's people did come to America for surgery and the belief is this is still true.  Yet it is not. Many more Americans are travelling abroad for surgeries performed in high tech Asian hospitals, performed by doctors taught in the U.S. and at a cost, on average of 80% less than it would cost to here.

"Homosexuality will destroy the sanctity of marriage." - The authors reasoning - Ignorance.  50% (other charts have it as high as 54%) of all marriages end in divorce, with 41% of all first marriages ending as such.  There are nearly twice as many divorces as there are abortions (for what it's worth).  The average marriage that ends in divorce lasts eight years. Red States have higher divorce rates than blue states.  Atheists, who have no religious rules against divorce, have the lowest divorce rate (21%).  One quarter of divorced families with a child are living below the poverty line.  There have been famous research tests done on infidelity (one being the infamous Kinsey report) and most are very different in their views on infidelity.  In the larger tests, a staggering 78% of married men have admitted to an affair and 72% of women.  Just to put it in perspective how open it's become, a website that caters to people looking to have affairs with other married people has 12 million customers. That's 10% of all married couples who are openly seeking an affair.   Here's the best stat.  Homosexual couples who are legally married around the world are half as likely to divorce as straight couples.

So there are some nuggets to chew on.  The Internet is a wonderful thing.  This blog, was a little more research oriented than most, but still, all this information was obtained and confirmed.  Scary how much we post on the Internet without actually checking the facts.  I for one do not and have no problem pointing out other's laziness and ignorance to do so.  I know sometimes it's just plain funny or it just sounds so great, you need to post it, but isn't being right about a topic more rewarding than someone writing LOL or Damn Straight on your Facebook page more rewarding?








Monday, March 4, 2013

RIP Grandma - A Valuable Lesson To All

As many of you know, my grandmother passed away late Friday evening.  The news, while sad, was in no way a shock.  I'm actually happy, she didn't really suffer and she never had to live with any real mental ailments.  Short term memory wasn't always her strong suit, but damn could she remember the good old days.  To start telling her tales would be a lengthy endeavor.  I'll leave that to my father, who is not only 100 times the writer I'll ever be.  As we've discussed in the past, he now has his final chapter.

At exactly one hundred years and one month, one could take infinite amount of wisdom from her.  I could take away her love of life  That each day be cherished, but never to the point where we raise expectations about reality.  For my grandmother, a perfect day would be a nice breakfast with hot coffee.  Hope into her sun clothes and head to the beach.  A full day soaking up too many rays, while bronzing her skin to look "beautiful."  Back to the house at four in the afternoon for cocktails, of which there would be many and dinner with friends or family.  My grandmother's life was all about enjoying the little things in life.  A Jelly Roll Morton song, a beautiful painting or a long walk down a tree lined path.  Listening to the ocean crash into the beach, sips of cold scotch and laughing with friends.  My grandmother lived her 100th year the same as she did her 20th.  With no expectations other than, the alternative is worse.  She loved life and was tormented in her later years by her physical restraints.  Thankfully, her mind, which depending on who you speak to was warped from the start, stayed sharp.  I could talk about a lot of things, but I will discuss one thing that changed the way I looked at her and brought me closer to understanding, not only her, but people. Now this story will start off in a way that doesn't seem very complimentary, but it taught me a valuable lesson, so please be patient.

About eight years ago, my grandmother was in the hospital.  This in itself was rare, because she was very healthy, but if I remember correctly, she had broken her clavicle.  At 92 she came back from this injury in half the time someone one third her age was expected to.  She was speaking to some family and mentioned her great grandfather, William Poulson.  An elderly black man stopped by the door and said "Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear you mention William Poulson.  May I ask, was he from Virginia (The man was specific to the area, but I myself forget it)?  My grandmother paused, as did everyone else and she confirmed.  The man paused, "Said, my name is William Poulson, as was my father, his father and my great grandfather and my great grandfather was from the same town in Virginia."  He then tipped his hat and said "It's a pleasure to meet you. Good day."

As my grandmother tells the story, there was a few moments of silence and some confusion from her hospital guests.  My grandmother collected her thoughts and explained to everyone that the man shared the name, which had been carried down and was from the same place.  Still, with confusion on the faces of her guests, she explained "My great grandfather owned his great grandfather.  Slaves very often took the names of their masters back then and the family name stuck."

To understand the impact of the story, you must understand that my grandmother was taught racism.  My grandmother never truly hated anyone, but was taught to hate blacks.  Anyone who has ever been to Philadelphia, where she lived most of her life, knows that the race issue there makes it seem like the 50's and 60's.  The city as a whole has not evolved the way much of the country has and the racism is quite open.  Sadly, a good part of my grandmother's family still feels that way.  It was a bone of contention when I was growing up, because my grandmother would use the "N" word as if it was as innocent as saying someone was tall.  She did so, because it was ingrained in her.  Since that day in the hospital, I don't remember he saying it more than two or three times, each time, correcting herself, explaining "we don't use that word anymore."

My grandmother has always confused my view of prejudice.  She would make racial slurs, yet praised the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Randall Cunningham and talk of how handsome he was.  Same with all black athletes who helped her team win.  She also had a love for jazz that was unparalleled and constantly explained to me that Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton were the best.  It always confused me that someone with such admiration for these people could still be racist.  The reality was, she wasn't.  Her family was and that is what they expected out of her and it was taught.

Last September, she and I sat on a porch and listened to a neighbors rap band.  The neighbor was white and all the members of his band were white.  She confirmed that she liked the lively music and asked what kind it was.  I explained it was rap and also tried to goad her a bit, by explaining it was more popular in urban and black culture.  She said, "Well, they have always been ahead of us in music and that's why Elvis and whites from that the 50's era stole all their music."  I laughed and told her she'd get my "Italian, Irish and German friends, pretty mad with that kind of talk."  She explained that if they didn't know that, then they didn't know history. I laughed again and had to continue my goading.  I asked her what she thought about Obama. She said "I didn't think I'd see it in my life, but he's been OK. I don't like the other guy, because he's a flat out liar.  He's never done anything positive for this country aside from something I read about the Olympics. Plus, all his good ideas Obama's already done. Obama's more like everyone else than the other guy."  I asked her if she had a problem that he was black.  She said, "what difference does it make to me.  I have had nurses who were black and they take care of me just as well as the white nurses, so why should I care what they look like?"

During her 100th birthday party, there were 44 people present. One was black. She turned to me and said "Oh there is my friend.  He's the best dressed man in Ithaca."  The gentleman came over and gave my grandmother a kiss.  It was something I never thought I'd see as a child.  It took 92 years for her to change her mind and in her last eight she accepted everyone who was genuinely good.  I am a cynic myself and I fear that we've lost our humanity, but if someone can brush off 92 years of hate and ignorance that was instilled in them as a child, we can all change for the better.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Quickie Review - ParaNorman Summarized In One Paragraph

I will preface this review with the fact that I do not have children.  As someone who grew up with classics like Fantasia and your standard Saturday morning fare of Bug Bunny and such, I am confused by the money that goes into these stop motion films.  ParaNorman has a great plot, but fails terribly in execution.  This is brought on entirely by it's horrible attempt to cater to audiences young and old, instead of catering to one.  The film misses on appealing to young kids by crossing the line too much into adult humor.  It's not risque enough to appeal to teens and it's feeble attempt to send a social message is lost. It's 90+ minutes of "accept those who are different" and we get it, but what kid under the age of 12 will pick up on these nuances and what person older will care to stick around while being bored by it?  If I had to give it a star rating....two out of five at best.

Facebook Says A Lot About People

From the outside, people probably think I'm some spoiled rich kid with a trust fund who sits at home all day and lives life as an Internet troll.  Well, not exactly. I'm about as broke as one can be and still live a decent life.  I work hard when I work and without sounding cocky, I'm pretty fucking awesome at what I do.  If I wasn't, I wouldn't be at a place for well over a decade that recycles bodies like it's La Cosa Nostra.  I will admit, I love the Internet and I love that it offers so much education, so quickly, but what I love even more about it, is the psychological profiling that can be done, just by paying attention.  Look, Halloween shows a lot about people's inner self and the reason is simple. They are allowed to wear a mask which allows for them to be inconspicuous, while letting go of their inhibitions.  Facebook, despite letting people know who you are, is the same.  It's a shield that allows you to open yourself to the world without ever truly letting anyone in.  You can block or hide from those that might judge you or you can fight them, in as nasty a way as you seem fit, without any true repercussions.  I myself, like to be me, but the crazy me, who doesn't have to worry about offending your wife or your husband.  Who doesn't have to speak in signs around your children.  Nope, I say what's on my mind, no matter how ridiculous and while you're not watching, I'm gathering info.  Below are types of people who just don't get what they are throwing out there.

The Motivational Meme Girl - This is the girl who wakes up, grabs a cup of Joe and then searches the Internet for a good 15-20 minutes looking for some words of encouragement with a pretty picture of a sunrise or a horse in a field and then posts five of them.  Her desire is to come across as deep and spiritual, while conveying an aura of invincibility.  She wants people to think "I am woman, hear me roar," but the reality is, she goes day by day afraid of the unknown, fearful that someone will see through her.  She may be going through work problems, marital or relationship problems or simply struggling to find the answers to life's every day problems when they seem overwhelming.  How productive and motivated is someone who spends their waking moments, looking for something to lift them, when a deep breath, a gaze at one's children, loved one or puppy should be all that is needed?

The Hot Rod Picture Guy - This is the guy who hasn't quite gotten out of high school yet. Now car enthusiasm is fine. We all have our hobbies we adopted as a kid, but this is the guy who needs to throw up a picture of a muscle car with a bikini clad model in front wearing a string bikini and looking like she wants to be anywhere but in this picture.  These are the guys, who when you see them out, are wearing a shirt with writing on it, usually containing some offensive word or some sexual innuendo. They might be married with kids, but there is no chance at all their wife looks anything like the girl in that picture.  Ironically, these guys are usually pretty amazing father's who do anything for their kids and if they have daughters hate the very idea of their daughters dating anyone like they are.  

The Reality TV Gabbers - These are the men and women who are consumed by everything on television.  They read books like 50 Shades of Grey or James Patterson novels, they listen to whatever was popular in their generation (like Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin or Pearl Jam) and basically go with whatever is the trend without having to truly think for themselves.  They quote the likes of the Mob Wives and the Bachelor, being angry when their contestant is voted off a show and take serious issue with someone talking about any show that might be a spin-off.  Damn you The Voice lovers, it's all about Idol!

The Single Girl Pet Pic Enthusiast - You wonder why you're single?  Well a pet is a wonderful thing.  So much so, that I too would like to get one, but there will be a line drawn.  If you're staying home weekend after weekend, because you don't want to leave Mr. Jingles alone, you've entered into a state of social withdrawal that is less than healthy. When you are in a new relationship that ends and you write on Facebook "at least I'll always have my Bootsie," you've 1, shown the world you might be a little needy and 2, not really aware of how long pets live.  

The Married Girl Pet Pic Enthusiast - Your Facebook page has more pics of your dog than of you family members combined.  Your kid is graduating second grade, but you found a sweater of Fido which you needed to show the world.  Your husband just got a promotion, but your pup is cuddling with a chew toy and you've actually taken a second to think about which is more Facebook worthy.  I'm not saying divorce is in your future, but don't say you weren't warned when your husband's picture from the company party is one of him smiling without you.

The Angry Political Poster - This is the guy who posts political jargon constantly without ever checking to see if it's correct.  He's fueled by similar simpletons who champion his cause and give him a feeling of self worth.  When proven wrong or inaccurate, this poster, goes and posts something on another page or comments on something he thinks is private.  He doesn't understand how the Internet works and that anyone can see his idiotic false statements on other's pages.  He techno high fives guys and they get into a "like" button feeding frenzy that resembles a gay Roman orgy, the problem is there is no vomitorium on Facebook.

The My Kids Are So Much Better Person - This is the person who doesn't just love their kids, but loves them so much they want others to feel inferior about their little Jacks and Jills.  These are the parents that not only brag about their child's success, but throw subtle barbs at other parents who might have posted earlier in the day.  Are their little geniuses really that exceptional?  Sure, to them? That's human nature, but as someone who sees this on a day to day basis in person, let me tell you this.  Kids of all shapes, sizes and mental capacities are a gift from the gods, but no single on is really God's gift.  If you're kid is five and has performed a tonsillectomy, sign me up for their saint petition, but if your kid is in first grade and walked to the bus for the first time and didn't drop to the ground in tears like the neighbors kid, maybe it's just that you prepared them.  Slap yourself on the back and go about your day.

The LOL, LMAO, ROFLMAO People - The hardest I ever laughed made milk shoot out of my nose.  At no time in my life have I fallen to the floor, lost my buttocks over an Internet meme or even laughed out loud for the most part. That is funny will suffice.

The Self Promotion People - Facebook has evolved from a social network to a network for some.  They believe, much like direct mailers and fliers, that they can reach a ton of people to promote their business just by posting on Facebook.  Now, while this may be true, it's unlikely.  Here's why. Good marketing has a 2% success rate.  Great would be 3%.  So if you have 500 friends, your post, if well done and read by all, will yield you ten clients. Your hope is similar to the pyramid schemes.  That they will tell their 500 friends.  The problem is that you have 100 similar friends and the reality is, not everyone uses Facebook.  So while I enjoy reading about how you're the best at whatever you do, a direct message, with a brief description and a link to where I can find out more would impress me and others more.  The reason?  I'm special. You took the time to single me out.  I know deep down you didn't, but it feels that way and I'm more likely to go towards your business should I need that service.  Just posting you're a real estate agent and you had a sale doesn't tell me how good you are at what you do.

The Woe Is Me People - I fall into this category occasionally, but usually I have a hidden agenda.  I'm looking for a reply that involves day drinking. Aside from that, I usually complain about sleep, because it has consumed my life in recent years and in many ways defines me.  Not being able to fall asleep is not insomnia my friends, so if your cat jumped on your balls and woke you up or you took a nap and now can't fall asleep, that is not insomnia.   These people also complain with comments like FML, SMH or other Internet shortcuts to display their anger and frustration over every day things.  "Fucking Traffic."  Well, it's 9:05.  What time did you leave for work this morning when you knew you had to be there at 9?  Oh you left at 8:45 like you always do and there was an accident?  Well what time do you normally arrive?  Oh, 8:58.  I can't see where this would ever be an issue.  I feel your pain.  People who bring stress upon themselves should be banned from sharing it as a woe on Facebook.  

The Selfie Addict - I like your abs and your tits too, but I don't need to see a picture of them every day.  I'm glad the situps and the new bra have inspired you, but you're no David LaChapelle or Annie Lebowitz, so we really don't need to see these daily.  While I envy how clean your bathroom mirror is, it's a little disturbing when someone looks in the mirror every morning and says "let's start the day off with a picture of me."  Now I have some beautiful friends, both male and female, but I'd much rather see a picture of them framed by the Golden Gate Bridge than by a curling iron a container of protein powder.

The I'm Out With My Husband/Wife.....Yet - You know how often I post on Facebook when I'm out with a friend for dinner or drinks?  Never.  You know how often I post when I'm at work? Never.  You know how many times I post when I'm in the city or at some event?  None.  You know why?  The person or people I'm with at the time are my life. Now don't misread this an get angry.  If I was with my wife and kid and at a show or event, I'd take pictures to create a scrapbook of memories.  To see my son or daughter enjoying themselves and to show my happy family somewhere other than at a Tuesday dinner table.  That, to me, is perfectly acceptable.  What infuriates me is when a friend goes on a date with a girlfriend or wife (or the male equivalent) and posts sports scores, political rants or anything that doesn't pertain to their loving their time with the one they are with.  I also hate check-ins, but I realize some people need other to know that they are at IHOP.  The Mayan tragedy was probably averted thanks to this incredible information.

The Guy Who Is Bored And Still Can't Stimulate Conversations - I will turn the mirror on myself.  I make fun of Michael J. Fox, I denounce the Pope as a Nazi pedophile, I talk about movies, I make fun of others, I debate, I talk and take pictures of my lame homemade meals.  I try and use the social network as it was intended.  To weave connections between companions into a group discussion.  This is a failing proposition, because people, for the most part don't get me. I have a friend who I see rarely, who I've had issues with and she with I, but she gets me.  She doesn't always comment, but it's refreshing when she does.  I have others who believe they have me figured out, who know nothing about me or my motivations.

So here, I will lay it on the line and probably upset a few (probably not those who actually read my blog).  I feel the need to educate.  Not in the way you think. I do not profess to know so much that I feel omnipotent, but I have a desire in my own life that I wish was shared.  I do not wish to go through one more day of existence in which I know less tomorrow than I did today.  It may be something as simple as a recipe for sauteed mushrooms or a historic date, but I don't just let that roll off of me like shower water.  I consume it and share it.  My hope, is that everyone desire knowledge.  I hope someone reads my comments on kids and spends an hour throwing a ball or watching a classic movie with them. Opening their young minds to the mysteries of the world.  I hope that my arguments with others makes them sit at home late one night and in an effort to prove me wrong, they research a topic so well they know more than I.  Whether they prove me wrong is of no significance, but they will take something away and then pass that knowledge forward.  School is not enough. I learned everything I know school-wise before sixth grade, with maybe the exception of religious studies.  I wish to spread the thought that all of us are equal and because you decide to lay your head next to someone of the same sex, none of us shall judge. I want everyone to be aware that your midnight snack of Oreo ice cream, while luxurious and well deserved is more than a billion people on this planet at all day.  That while you complain about gas at four dollars a gallon and curse the government, that I mock you as you pay the $12 equivalent for a bottled water.  I want everyone to think until it hurts..  Think with your own mind, not with the minds of others who haven't walked in your shoes or lived your life.  I want you to look at people and wonder, like I do, where do they come from. Where does hate evolve from and why do we nurture it?

So tomorrow, when nobody reads this, I will awake.  I will put on some coffee.  I will respond to a barb, write a joke, share some humor and make some eggs.  I will pour over the inspirational, the irrational and the incorrect.  I might comment and I might not.  I might shake my head in disgust or laugh at the frivolous nature of the posts.  I'll watch and view and see who writes what and I will make mental notes.  I will try and decipher those who are true and those who are false.  Those who awoke with fervor to attack the day and it's surprises and those who just want to appear that way.  I will figure on who laid wrapped in their lovers arms and who is hiding their sadness.  It won't matter what I do in terms of your life.  Tomorrow I will be more intelligent and knowledgeable at days end than I was right now. The following day even more such.  It's all that matters to me.  Although it must be nice to have one goal in a day. To find the perfect quote or picture so that people can see the you that you wish you were and not the you that you are.  I'll be thinking about the real you and wishing I could reach out.