Monday, August 31, 2015

Trash Day

This was a status on Facebook (yes, aren't you glad you're not friends with me?), but I haven't posted in a while, so I figured I'd throw this up here. I"m thinking of scrapping this blog and starting a new one, with a specific topic in mind. This, once again, seems to have run its course.

 Ahhh, a balmy Monday morning in Ithaca. Sunday's trash, which has been sitting on the sidewalk for 18 hours, still sits, rummaged through by nocturnal creatures that stand on both two and four legs. The sullen dog owner across the street must be done with his chore of owning, yes owning, his pet.

The forecast calls for heat and humidity, which should bring chants of a second summer. As poets and their prose counterparts write tales, with their thinly veiled allusions to a return to the womb. Mother replaces the youth they lust for, or vice versa, depending on their audience. The delusions of mass acceptance, more important than the words.

I sit, with hot food and cool coffee, wondering if I can use the microwave and the toaster at the same time. My friend staring at me, wondering why I slept at night. A trip to the central New York Mecca of middle eastern delights, returned only frozen falafel, but the mighty Wegman's apparently had a finer chick pea spread.

It's only Monday, or as they call it here in Ithaca, Trash Day. Still an outsider, I haven't let on, that every day is, this is just the day they make room for more of the same. I feel like this is groundhog's day, with the Indian couple fast walking, the short guy with the big dog, the tall guy with the little dog and the ever present sounds of crickets, reminding me of their existence, like a fluorescent bulb, buzzing and flickering, waiting to die, but hanging on, for what seems like forever.

Is it nighttime yet? I need a movie to take me away from here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Random Acts Of Kindness, Self Love & Our Decaying Moral Fiber

Last summer, I battled the random acts of kindness hash tag with my much despised 100 Days of Hopper. Usually I chose something I found hypocritical to rant about and went from there. This year, I've either been blocked, I've unfollowed or I've simply managed to miss all of these. I was sent one about someone handing out some sandwiches and then attending a $150 per ticket Broadway show, but they're not my friends, so it doesn't bother me as much. Although it should be noted, they are friends with the queen of telling people when she does something "random."

Since we seem to have got away from the hash tag craze, I see we've entered into this new "self love" era. Now, there is nothing wrong with being comfortable and confident in yourself. That is one of the main components in Maslow's hierarchy of needs (my Bible), but here's the's not the highest level of achievement. Self actualization is and while you need to have self esteem and self love, it's not the end. There are also a higher and lower level of importance of self love and while I know many people who boast about the achievements and their status, this is actually the lower level, because in the end, materialistic vices, even if they are achieved, aren't nearly as important as true competence and confidence, because that gives on true freedom. Just having good looks, money and a good job, isn't enough, because many times, those things simply gloss over what you're deficient in.

Self actualization is the mastery or in my mind, complete confidence that at the end of the final day, you've done all you can. To do so, you must be comfortable not only in your skin, but comfortable in how everyone who matters views you. You have to have literally left everything on the table, never compromising what matters and have the ability to be proud, without being cocky. In essence, you must be humbled by your own achievements.

While this might sound impossible, I have always liked this to the unconditional love of a child. That child, might turn out to be a concert pianist or they might turn out to be a janitor, but when that parents looks back, they are proud of the person they brought into the world, they are proud with how they raised them and they are proud with what they have achieved, regardless if it was what they expected or wanted, because they did everything they could, without ever compromising their values.

So this sounds like a  lot of psychological and philosophical bullshit for something I'm about to share on social media, but it's social media that has me thinking about this. I've friends who have achieved thing through cheating, but praise their hard work, because they no longer cheat. I have friends who have compromised friendships to get ahead, but they have made up, so they view it as acceptable. I have friends who are going through horrible suffering, but take the time to apologize for "taking up my time," when it is I who am humbled that they trust me to talk. Then there are those who I've listen to grovel for months, some years, who finally feel they've reached the mountain top and have bragged and boasted about all they have. I look at them and their insecurities shine as bright as the sun. Sometimes you think, you're wrong about people and you try and convince yourself, but really, they just use you to step to the top, but they don't realize, that you had walked down from a much higher mountain, to help them up their hill.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Why I'm Turning Into A Crazy Cat Guy

He can spend hours, laying in bed with me, only moving to get closer.
Many nights, he sleeps in a chair, while I sit at a computer, only getting up, to jump onto a table, turn over, so his chin can be scratched, then batting my hand away, when he's content.
He will go from ferociously biting me, to licking my hand. His way of thanking me for allowing him to retain some of his animal instincts.
Whenever I go to make a meal, he jumps on the table and faces where he thinks I'll be sitting.
When there is thunder, he will watch the rain outside, while sitting on the windowsill, act strong, then nestle under blankets, resting his entire body against my legs or chest. Immediately jumping out, when he feels the loud booms have subsided.
He circles my feet when he hasn't seen me in a while, then drops to the ground for scratches. He sometimes does this while I'm walking down the stairs, so this might be my last blog.
He allows me to hold him like a baby at times.
He kneads my legs at times and I let him. Despite the fact that it tears my skin to pieces.
Despite only being about two months old, he knew one day I was saddened by something and didn't leave my side.
We share breakfast (and I mean share literally) ever morning. The two times we haven't recently, he's not been himself the rest of the day and I've felt terrible. Those evenings however, he made sure I knew it was OK.
He has the weakest meow ever. Which makes me worry, because it's hard to hear when he's upset by something (like being locked in or out of a room).
He gets these little black boogers and despite them drying and hurting at times, he allows me to clean them off. Sounds gross, but it's someone trusting us, even when it hurts, that we all need.
While I admit, this isn't the smartest thing, when he gets too rough biting and scratching, I put my face near his and he swats me in the face, but never once with his claws.
When he's just woken up, he's like a drunk. His balance isn't where it should be and his jumping ability is hindered....he will stand at the edge of my bed many times and wait for me to pick him up and place him on the ground.
He joins me in the toilet, every time.....every single time.
He does a lot of little things, each and every day, but honestly, he's the only living creature, I go to bed happy, just knowing I have seeing, hearing and spending time with him to look forward to the next day.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Free Writing - Take 93

When does it stop? When can I go a day without someone I like suffering a setback? When can I sign on to Facebook and not read some teacher complaining about how they only have two weeks left of vacation, when most people I know don't get two weeks paid vacation in an entire year? When can I not see ignorance, no matter what the topic, I would like on day where every comment makes sense, regardless of the stance. When will certain people wake up and realize their selfishness is destroying how I feel about them? When can I go outside and not be ashamed of my face? When can I relax with my cat and not worry, when I fall asleep if he's locked in our out of some room? When will I find some kind of employment that will make me happy and serve it's purpose. I feel like I'm looking for a needle in a haystack, but there really isn't a needle. When will I be able to breathe again (literally and figuratively)? When will I find someone to share those special and not so special moments? When will I go an hour without feeling like all hope is lost; not for me, but for us? When will people be nicer to each other and when will those who are selfish, narcissistic and sometimes cruel, just vanish?

- Muhammad Ali

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Free Writing - Take 92 (Social Media)

Social media has taught me that my estimation of my average friend having an IQ of about 100 (which is below the US average), was way too high. The number of professional educators I know, who don't understand how to write properly, is frightening. There are no rules saying, smart people can spell and dumb people can't, but when you're constantly writing lesson plans and letters, you'd think common words would be ingrained in you.

Social media has taught me that most, yes most, of my friends will believe something in a meme over anything written with a citation. I proved someone wrong the other day, beyond a shadow of a doubt, with photographic evidence, no less, and their reaction? "We'll just have to agree to disagree." How does one agree to disagree with a fact?

Social media has taught me that everyone who posts happiness, contentment and zen, 24/7 is desperately crying out. What amazes me is they all have the same hobbies in common and same diet. The people who simply post pictures of their food, aren't the ones I mean. It's the ones that push their way of life onto you. It's not a deep concern for ecology or a love of beets, but it's their mind telling them, if I can convince one person that they enjoy this, it'll mask my pain. It's simple psychology. Pack mentality works, even when it's built on a lie.

Social media has taught me that people that are promiscuous, especially those committing adultery, aren't nearly as clever as they think. People who are openly looking for this, but have yet to act, are even more obvious. The people who are content are also fairly obvious, because they never feel the need to make their significant other appear like anything more or less than they are and this varies by relationship. That one word is where it is all telling and easy to see.

Social media has taught me that I tend to say more to people than I ever would in person. Call it gossip, call it being catty, call it whatever name you wish, but the reality is, if you're going to live a life that is one way and try and fool others, you can't be upset when your secrets are revealed. I have almost no secrets, because anyone who wants to know can just ask.

Social media has taught me that the scariest bigotry is social media bigotry, because it's not even considered bigotry, but a first amendment right. This is not a right. It's hate. If you hide behind the word opinion, you're a coward, like most bigots. Don't think, because you've brought the Constitution into it, you've raised the level. You've actually lowered it, without your misinterpretation of the document.

Social media has taught me that the more technology we have, the less we use it; trusting that others have for us. Dangerous assumption, when everyone makes it.

Social media has taught me that happiness isn't an easy thing to come by and that a laugh or a patient ear, is all we can really ask some days. Health helps too.

Social media has taught me, that when social media becomes your main source of communication with those you call friends, your friends list gets shorter and those you confide in gets even smaller. I'm lucky for the few I have. I look forward to hearing from them every day. I really do.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ithaca: The Truman Show (A Real Conversation)

The other night I "met" someone online and he said he had lived in the Finger Lakes region and I said I was currently in Ithaca. I explained that I had moved from lower Westchester and he laughed. He asked if I'd acclimated myself to the "cause-way" and I then realized he understood. I described Ithaca as The Truman Show, with the same people appearing at the same time, in the same place, doing the exact same thing. I explained, for a multitude of reasons, I didn't get out much and he assured me I was missing nothing.

He asked if the track teams still run down the streets together at the same time, the stampede for footsteps, the hollow looks and the lack of sweat.  He asked if I smiled at neighbors and witnessed their forced attempts and how hard their eyes dart away. He then asked if I'd heard any good poetry about hardships and loss, written by someone whose life we both could only dream of having. Then of some sub-par play, written by a "townie" who everyone secretly wishes would stop writing these insipid pieces, for nobody other than the local actors, who are all failed art majors. I laughed, because it's all I ever hear about, but refuse to go. The pretentious nature of Ithacans is second to none. They all feel as if they helped Christ lug his cross, but you know, not with all that religious stuff attached.

As I laughed at his knowledge of the area, I thought I'd throw a few and he concurred that nearly every Cornell writer, seemed to have mother issues and if they didn't, they made every poem about a girlfriend about their mother and vice versa. He said, oh yes and told me, how he always laughed how much these boys hated their mothers, but lusted after them too. I asked if everyone was so narrow minded, not in their politics, but in their actual ability to think. He asked me if there was some town meeting or "guest" speaker, which everyone moved their calendars for. I asked why the quotes around the word guest and he noted that the person was usually a well known local, yet throwing guest on a pamphlet somehow gave the event legitimacy.

We both laughed at the absurdity of this little place, which people take it oh so seriously, especially when it's ranked for its greenness and its way of life. Meanwhile the fireworks, gunshots and heavy drug use, much of it done and sold by the middle class white folks, is never reported and from the lack of sirens, even investigated. We both laughed at how easy a place is to read and then he admitted he'd not been here in over a decade. We laughed again and then he said "You should write about it. Everyone in Ithaca writes about Ithaca. It's the thing to do." I laughed, but he continued, "Why not, that area is the home of micro brews, minuscule wineries and the self publishing hub of the the US. He said, if you haven't paid to have something published, you haven't lived in Ithaca long enough." He had no idea the nerve he struck. I said my thanks and we said out goodbyes. His parting shot, "Don't fear, it's safe to set sail. I did."

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Pray for You

Do people who pray, or the ones that say they do, understand just how hard it is for us heathens to lend support. Here's the thing...we actually need to mean it. We can't use a generic "you're in my prayers." We need to formulate thoughts that are specific to the situation and then lend actual support, in the form of comfort, assistance and in rare cases, guidance. This is a stressful time for us, because we can possibly say the wrong thing or even worse, take the wrong tone. We might say something that comes off dismissive, such as "OK, thinking about you" or "Let me know if you need anything" and that just doesn't hold the weight of promised prayer.

I know what you're saying. You think I'm just being anti-religion and make no mistake, I think it's an evil beyond all others, but that isn't it. I'm saying, for all the wars it's caused, the confusion it brings and the conflict it causes in individual lives, it allows everyone who believes an out from responsibility and care. For once you say, "you're in my prayers," you're absolved of any further responsibility, unless asked. Then, you're deemed a savior of sorts, because when asked, you answered the call. Where as those of us who ask without hesitation are usually expected to give the person space and be on call. A call, which by the way, rarely comes, until all hope is lost and then, when it does, we're there for the horrors. Those God's chosen can't accept, so they hide and wait for groups meetings, to bow, look sorrowful and pray some more. This time for your peace.

Let's be real. When you say "I'll pray for you," what you really mean is you'll pray for yourself. You'll hope such horrors never beset your life and that if called upon, it's for nothing more than a car ride or to watch the young one. Your prayers are that you don't have to sit and listen for months, while those beckon calls to God go unanswered. You pray that the worst case scenario is that you might have to get your shirt dry cleaned for the sad day, so you can tell the bereaved, that someone is in a better place. Or you pray, that it's one of the millions of things, people make a big deal out of, with full knowledge it's nothing.

Tonight I worry about a friend and I'm helpless, they're helpless and there are no magical words in my world that make this easier for anyone. All I can say is"let me know,"  and let them finish the what is needed of me; and that isn't good enough.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Morning After - The GOP Debate(s)

I admit it. I only watched one hour of the second one, but watched clips of the rest.

Let me first start by saying, that unlike others, I didn't care one bit what Donald Trump had to say, because anyone who follows politics understands he has zero chance of winning the nomination.

I'll also add this. Of all my friends, the people who support Donald Trump on Facebook are, in general the ones I'd put in the bottom 5-10% in terms of intelligence. I don't mean they aren't nice, kind people, but if it came to book smarts, these are the ones who never opened the book. Mean? Sorry, it's true. They are the wrong "their, there, they'res" of the world and no, not because of auto correct, they simply aren't intelligent human beings on any subject and their convictions don't add up to intelligence.

Megyn Kelly asked a question about God speaking to the candidates. Not only is it irrelevant, but to answer the question, in a public office seeking forum, is....wait for it, Unconstitutional. It's actually written into the Constitution as something that is never to be allowed. Well played Fox News.

Trump went all-in on anti-feminism and to make matters worse, he threatened the moderator. People will praise his balls, but the reality is, he just lost a huge section of the female vote he actually led in.

Ben Carson called conjoined twins, Siamese. He also said we need to get past talking about race. BTW, he's the black guy, who is a neurosurgeon.

Every one of the people standing before you is a multi-millionaire and while some did achieve their success on their own merits, it's important to remember who is now footing their bills.

In case you didn't get it, this was an attack on Donald Trump, because Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes can't stand the man. How did Trump do? 13% of this answer had a bit of truth to them and not a single one stood up to "mostly true" by Politifacts measurements. In simple terms, he got crushed.

Caryl Fiorina won the early debate by almost all accounts and she did so in stunning fashion. She didn't say a single thing that was true.

So who is out as of tomorrow? Mike Huckabee & Kasich
Who is holding on by a thread? Chris Christie, Rick Perry and Rand Paul
Who helped themselves? Fiorina, Rubio, Carson (please explain this) and Walker
Who would my guess be for next November? Jeb Bush or Cruz

One last interesting note. If this was an independent debate. John Kasich would have been the winner by a landslide, which proves, independents don't exist, because nobody is defending him.

So who was the real winner, if we're being honest? The Democratic Party.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

July Movies

Well, there have 213 days in 2015 and I've seen 213 movies. These are July's views and I must say, this month featured some of the best and worst movies I've ever seen. Sunrise will soon find a spot in my top 50 movies of all-time. Maybe even the top 25. True Detective: Season 1 was arguably one of the best things I've ever watched for a one season series. Only Top of the Lake was better. This month was also filled with some epic clunkers, including a well received movie which made an odd of the only films I've ever turned off before it was finished....Mr. Turner was so painfully dull, all the colors in the world couldn't save it.

  1. The Machine - Much better than anticipated look at AI v Humans, from multiple angles.
  2. Trouble Every Day - Poor attempt at artsy look at cannibalism. Gallo is painful to watch.
  3. Mr. Turner - For once, the word pretentious fits. Art film about artist made for artists.
  4. A Trip to the Moon - 1902 short, which plays almost like a cartoon. 
  5. Into The Woods - Blunt, Kendrick, Streep and Huttlestone are brilliant. A gem musical.
  6. The Search for General Tso - Witty, great music and sincere homage to Chinese Americans.
  7. True Detective (Season 1) - The finest acted cable series I've ever watched. Top Notch.
  8. Ju-on 2 - Awful sequel to now classic Japanese horror film. Solid start, but then repetitive.
  9. Sunrise - Murnau's 1927 silent was the end of an era, but might be the greatest of them all.
  10. Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell - A collection of 47 horror trailers, some classics. Dud!
  11. Maggie - Arnold in dull Zombie flick with Little Miss Sunshine, fails on every level.
  12. Ex Machina - Simple minded, refurbished AI movie model. save your time, see The Machine.
  13. The Salt of the Earth - Should have been titled, famous for trivializing other's plight.
  14. The Damned - No surprised, but solid little horror flick, with very attractive everything.
  15. It Follows - Overly hyped horror, that fails when the main plot point becomes irrelevant.
  16. Summer with Monika - Early Bergman is beautifully simple, sad, predictable. Not his best.
  17. Penguins of Madagscar - Great kids movie, but lacks deep meaning and enough adult humor.
  18. Lost River - Gosling's writing/directorial debut misses bar it set and plummets to the depths.
  19. Spirit of the Beehive - I'm withholding judgement. Beautiful, but I'm too distracted.
  20. The Passion of Joan of Arc - Brilliant, bold and powerful. Falconetti is mesmerizing. 
  21. Freaks - Browning circus tale is exploitative, but a wonderful tale with unforgettable finale.
  22. Au Hasard Balthazar - Didn't click for me, as the parable of Marie seems misguided.
  23. Evidence - Horrible found footage, "hi-tech" thriller/horror with 1/2 a twist ending.
  24. Night of the Living Dead - Rewatched the original. One of the best ever. Says so much!
  25. Jinn - Interesting idea ruined by pretty much every aspect of bad film making. 
  26. White God - A simple powerful message about life, nature and an answer staring us in the face.
  27. The Wicker Man (1973) - Hilarious and campy, then I found out it wasn't supposed to be. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

When You Recommend A Movie To Someone It Is Lost On

Recommending a movie for me, isn't about whether or not I liked it. It never is. It is always about whether I not only think the other person will be entertained, but if they'll be able to speak about it and appreciate, not necessarily the way I did, but possibly from an alternate perspective. I crave that, so I'm always careful when saying "you should see this."

Lately, I've kept my movie recommendations to myself. I've found that there are really only two or three people I know who appreciate them and thankfully a "new friend" who shares my passion for certain types of movies (shh, good movies). I have my two muses as I call them privately, then there is one other person and this new addition to my movie nonsense. That being said, when I recommend something that really affected me, I expect the person to watch it with some faint interest and realize, it's not going to be a superficial two hours.

So what am I going on and on about? Obviously, I'm not talking about movie reviews and recommendations, so get on with it! Lately, I've painted myself into a bit of a conflicted state, but I'm not the one holding the brush. It seems that someone I used to recommend a movie to would watch it with open eyes, but now, unless his little boy toy or his painfully boring "date" recommends a film, he's not interested. He reads or listens to their reviews, checks the New Yorker and then spew the film class professor-speak nonsense that his two heroes put out. It's frustrating, because it's so painful to see someone suck down other people's opinions and pawning them off as their own, when both these two buffoons opinions can be found verbatim in a careful Google search.

So why does it bother me? Well, if I take the time to suggest something, but then add, but you probably won't, because I know they didn't recommend it, I don't want to hear your reasoning for disliking it, but then my detective instinct kicks in and I stupidly ask and when I hear "It was a sappy ending, but what can you expect, it was about dogs."  Yes of course and you, who google searches every last word of your obsession's grade school, oedipal-laced poetry, can't see the tie ins to immigration in Eastern Europe, the loss of innocence in the world today and the fact that there isn't one scene in the entire fucking movie that isn't a metaphor for something other than a little girl and a lost dog?

Sorry, did I vent a little too freely? Maybe I did, but of course, I keep these post cryptic and anonymous enough, so that if anyone ho watches movies such as these three, wouldn't be able to figure it out. Of course anyone who has asked how I've been and meant it, will know right away. The woods call. The shack, the cat, the fire, the stream and the WiFi, so I can watch movies and not wonder, "should I bother?" I know the answer and I'll abstain from this day forward and revel in what they have missed.