Saturday, July 14, 2018

Speaking Up

Anyone who met me before 2014 knows how opinionated I am. Those who only know me through social media probably think that's the first line to a joke. I am opinionated about many things, but I've lost the ability, or maybe it's the desire, to speak my mind. Recently, when confronted with a question, I balked. I said the correct thing, despite disagreeing completely. The specific question isn't important, but it's a pattern I'm seeing in myself lately, and for the most part, I despise it, In the past, I would never have allowed myself to be put into a situation I was uncomfortable with, unless I felt I could handle it without added stress. There was a time when I stressed over nothing. In my mind, able to control all. I was mistaken, but that isn't why I have changed.


I know fear now. I've never known fear. I've had knives, guns, and other weapons pulled on me. I've been in fights where I was getting pummeled. I've faced personal loss and lived with pain most could never imagine. I've failed so many times, I should have been more cautious as life wore on. In all those times, I've never felt fear. Then one day I did and for the first time, I realized I had to use some form of self-preservation and that everything would not simply "work itself out." The hardest part has been asking for help from others. Despite what many think, it's not something I've ever done. I've gone without food, money, love, and even friendship in the past, all for the sake of doing it myself. It has cost me. It changed me, and not for the better.

So what is it about fear that allows us to be hurt. Not physically, but mentally? Why do we cower to other's wishes and whims, sitting silently like a polite schoolboy? I feel the dunce cap firmly attached as I nod and smile, knowing my answer will cause me pain and discomfort, again, not of the physical variety. As I said earlier, I've made tons of mistakes, but I'd like to think I've learned a little from all, become wiser, and while the mistakes continue, they were rarely the same ones. Yet now I feel fear and while I don't feel doomed, I repeat them, walking this metaphoric tightrope of pleasing others, while compromising the one attribute that makes me who I am or in this case was.

I will regret the last few times I was asked something and answered with what I felt I needed to say to maintain this awful sense of contentment I'm stuck in. I wait for a change, and yes, I'm waiting proactively, but the options are limited. I have received help and the help haunts me. Maybe this is why I live with this fear. I have accepted the cliche it could always be worse, as not only fact but a way of life. Sometimes I wonder, "can it?"

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Free Writing - It's Been A While

Been a while since I've used this method, so bear with me.
Setting my timer at seven minutes, so won't be too bad.

Summer has been relatively kid-free. Most I know would relish that thought, despite their love. I'm miserable. I've had some fun times, laughs with a friend, met some new people, but I crave the one-on-one learning experience of "my" kids. I mean my learning, not theirs. I miss their laughs, their innocent questions about everything and anything. I miss feeling appreciated. Kids, despite their aloof nature and naivety, are as appreciative as anyone. Unlike animals, who appear to show love when fed, petted, or played with, kids, especially those old enough to understand attention, can tell the difference between being coddled, spoiled, or distracted and being cared for. I miss those eyes when you've opened up a new part of the world to them and they, without a word, show their appreciation with a gaze. I miss the goodbyes at the end of the day most of all. The feeling that I've achieved something for another and they, with a simple "See you tomorrow," confirm that I have. If money were never an object in my life, I'd work with kids for free. Should I ever become wealthy, by chance or luck, I'd continue my work, because it's a learning experience and it's the one thing in life, possibly a selfish feeling, that truly makes me feel good about me.

May and June Movies - 2018

  1. Memoir of a Murderer - Average at best with one too many twists that ruins everything.
  2. Shoalin Avengers - Better than average martial arts classic.
  3. Ricky Gervais: Humanity - Weak effort by Gervais, who seems to explain every joke.
  4. Haxan - Not sure I saw the right version. Commentary and goofy "Jazz" soundtrack. Meh!
  5. Revenge of the Green Dragons - Starts off pretty interesting, then completely falls apart.
  6. Eg Man Pig aka I Remember You - Tension builds and builds and builds, then nothing.
  7. Turbo Kid - Ode to a ton of stuff with cute robots, gore, Michael Ironside and a garden gnome.
  8. The Phantom Thread - Perfect first hour, becomes somewhat predictable, but still magnificent.
  9. The Post - It's been done before, and better, but it is timely and important.
  10. Star Wars; The Last Jedi - Quite possibly the worst of all the Star Wars film made.
  11. Gate of Hell - Beautiful, but somewhat dull story. Maybe it's just not what I was expecting.
  12. Scandal - One of Kurosawa and Mifune's more human stories. Avoids usual tropes. 
  13. Ms.45 -  Revisited this Ferrara/Tamerlis (Lund) gem. Sadly, #MeToo makes it feel timely.
  14. Beatriz at Dinner - Hayek and Lithgow shine, but Britton is the glue of this tight commentary.
  15. Cargo (Short Film) - Watched this classic short again, in preparation for the feature.
  16. Chronic - Flawed, especially in its editing, but Tim Roth is amazing. It's a personal gut punch.
  17. The Bad Sleep Well - Film Noir by Kurosawa with Mifune. Good, but less than expected.
  18. Wings of Desire - Wim Wenders uses angels to create a dream about life, place, and time. 
  19. Hidden Fortress - Revisted Kurosawa's epic, which served as an inspiration for Star Wars
  20. I am Cuba - Kalatozov's Russian propaganda film drags, but a  B and W visual masterpiece
  21. The Killing (US) - Watched all 4 seasons in seven days. Holder is an all-time great character.
  22. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - Pales in comparison to the first, but some good laughs.
  23. The Great Silence - Revered Spaghetti Western with Klaus Kinski. Dull, aside from McGee
  24. Valley of Ditches - Pretty lead, also co-writer, can't save this from taking itself too seriously.
  25. The King's Speech - Firth won the Oscar, but it's Rush who sets the tone and pace. Superb!
  26. Paprika - Sci-Fi Anime which failed to keep me awake. I'll try again later.
  27. Luther - Watched the first two seasons. Feels like a Prime Suspect remake, with better co-stars.
Top Three - The Phantom Thread, Wings of Desire, The King's Speech
Bottom Three - The Last Jedi, Valley of Ditches, Haxan
Biggest Surprise - Wings of Desire
Biggest Disappointment - Star Wars: The Last Jedi 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Sad Day For America

I'm not a journalist, but God knows if I was, I'd show more guts than they've shown in holding the current president accountable. Their fear of his halting access is reminiscent of another dark time in world history. It was only Wednesday yesterday, and while liberals, even socialists, cheered the primary win of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they failed to recognize that this new wave of unknowns will receive little free press from major news outlets. The irony of course is, the same "liberal" news networks who elected Donald Trump won't want to be accused of bias, now labeled with a hashtag. Even after this primary, the liberal stalwart, The New York Times asked: "Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?" This is where we are, and again, it's reminiscent of so many other regimes, which we must recall, ended badly.

But the real blow came yesterday, one day after they backed Mr. Trump's Muslim Ban, a ban, even his Vice President called an atrocity. Of course, this was before he was VP, and now he just sits with his smirk, waiting for his inevitable turn to create chaos and distrust of anyone not white, male, and sharing his treacherous values. Yesterday, the Supreme Court voted in favor of non-union employees' first amendment rights. On the outside, it sounds like a justifiable decision, but in the end, it's only a ploy to create even more disparity for those who have the political and financial pull to be true lobbyists. We could break down all of the different groups to be, but the real victims of this decisions are the teacher's unions, but that this could have a ripple effect that destroys all unions. And then what? Will Trump, or someone like him, summon immigrants to build his wall? This would be like slaves building the pyramids, to honor those who enslave them.

And still, I've not touched on the worst part of this week or even this day. The announcement, amidst all this turmoil, that Justice Andrew Kennedy will step down. While a Republican, he's been the swing vote in some controversial issues, often honoring the Constitution, over party lines, as he was chosen to do. His replacement will inevitably be a man of much less character, and make no mistake about it, it will be a man; a white Evangelical man. A man who will view Roe v Wade as murder. A man who will not view the LGBT community as equals. A man, who in the end, as Trump said, change the way human beings in this country are to be treated, for the next 40-45 years.

Most I know complained about the weather, their kids' schedules, or something that irked them on social media. Most watched reality TV and were appalled by some contestant's behavior. Most ignored, or even worse, don't even care about what has happened this week. Many supporters will point to the few extra pennies in their paycheck, ignoring the cost of gas canceled that out weeks ago. Many opponents will go back to quoting some celebrities vulgar insults. I took a drive and thought about my two-year-old niece, and worried about the world she'll endure, long after I'm gone.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Does Anyone Else Forget Their Age?

When I was a young child, there was never a kid's table. If there was, I surely wasn't seated at it. I enjoyed the adult conversation, listening, learning, and on occasion, adding my childish perspective. As a teen, I shunned the adult table and surrounded myself with my peers, but always felt as though I was out of place. As if I were in some maturity limbo. I felt I knew more than my teachers, more than my friends and much less than those I aspired to surround myself with. I then started working full-time after high school and felt like an old soul. My friends were stressing about a grade, while I was thinking about buying a car, a house, and more.

Fast-forward thirty years. I work with people the same age I was in the last scenario. They have their entire lives ahead of them, albeit, many of them with an Ivy league degree. They talk about trips, volunteer work in other countries, craft beers, and school. Tests, papers, and projects. I envy them. I have little to offer them in words of advice other than satisfaction in one's place breeds complacency. It's as bad as a drug addiction. It grows within you and never leaves, even when you make moves. Lateral moves feel as monumental as those which bring you up. Those which bring you down are doubly as devastating because that awful feeling of being content is shaken. I could tell them this, but I don't. They seem more focused than I was at that age. For all the talk in social media and print media about Millennials, they are a focused bunch. The problem Gen X and the Baby Boomers has is, they don't recognize their drive, because it's viewed as selfish.

And this leads me to the only other bit of advice I could give them.

Be Selfish. Do for you first and the rest will fall into place. Your personal happiness will turn into other's happiness. Without self-efficacy, you can not achieve the person you deserve to be. Without that person, you can't create a life where your life promotes other's happiness. How can one without the ability to achieve their own goals, no matter how minor, spread that success to another?

I've always been good at what I do, whatever it is, but I'm not good at turning that into what I can call success. I don't view money as success, but I do know, now more than ever, that the lack of money for doing a job, has hindered my growth. Not in terms of materialism, but in terms of self. That is a lesson I could teach my younger peers, but why would they listen to someone who is stuck where they are, seemingly their entire life? This is where I am and it makes me wonder, as I laugh with them, share silly stories about the kids, a meal, money woes, and living arrangements. I'm going to be 48-years-old soon and I have more in common with the early 20-somethings that I do with my friends who are my age. I can't even say I've lived more than they have. I have endured more, but that is something we all will do. How we do it is the key. I look around me and those who are selfish when it comes to other's pain, grief, and sickness, are the ones holding the chips.

So maybe this is the third lesson. If you're going to make a choice that will hinder your success, you'd better make sure you'll never regret it. I struggle with that decision every day and while I know deep down I'd do it again, maybe that knowledge is the problem. Are my decisions now; have they always been, made out of a disconnect to where I am in life, always thinking I'm still young enough to rebound? I sure know when I look at those I'm surrounded by, I don't feel 48, but when we all leave, and they discuss their plans, I'm reminded and it's a bit jarring. It happens every day!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Don't Forget The Custodians

Hey Parents, Most of you will buy your kid's teachers a gift. A small token of your appreciation. It will be warmly received, albeit with a bit of embarrassment from most. While these mostly minimal costs add up, please don't forget the custodial staff. All those wonderful performances, projects, rehearsals, functions, etc are prepped, set up, taken down, and cleaned by these men and women (on top of their already difficult and long hours). Many times problems you and your children never know about are handled because of a 4 AM phone call. These people aren't only cleaning the school, but are an extra set of eyes, who care and protect your kids, when others are not. They are almost always forgotten by those who benefit most from their work. The smallest gesture makes a bigger difference to them than to those who have come to anticipate, if not expect it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Politeness Means Nothing

I am completely fine with people not being polite. Politeness is a learned behavior. Being inconsiderate of others is another thing entirely. Politeness is something you do because you feel you should, maybe even have to, to avoid scrutiny. Being considerate shows you truly care and that you're being polite, not out of habit or some forced social contract, but because you feel your minor act will enhance or ease another's life. It's quite simple. Being polite, holding doors, saying your please and thank yous and giving the old lady on the bus your seat, are all nice things to do, but why are you doing them? Is it because you rant and rave on social media and around your sewing circle when it's not done for you or are you doing it because you feel you're bettering someone else's life? So many times, the only reason we do polite things is for us. If you work with kids, you'd understand where I'm coming from.

Being considerate is not a societal norm. Think of every single time you do what you think is Facebook worthy because you view it as some RAOK (Random Act of Kindness). Is it really ever random? Giving up your reserved table so a family with children can sit and the entire restaurant isn't burdened with the antsy kids, is a random, considerate act. Holding the door for that family is something you were taught and that is why you do it. Oh and don't be offended when Mom and Dad don't hold the door for you. They probably didn't even see you.

I could give you a hundred personal experiences of people pointing out the lack of polite behavior only to have it bite them in the ass, but I'll spare you. I do find it funny how it's almost a given that the same people who complain about other people's lack of politeness are also the ones who will rant or post about not judging someone by their outward appearance. They'll point to depression, illness, stress or other variables, but then don't shine that self-righteous light on themselves when judging others.

We all have stories, but we've also all been taught civility, etiquette, and manners, but let's never forget, our actions because of these lessons are learned responses that say nothing about us or the person we are doing them for. They are basic human actions when we feel inaction reflects poorly upon us. That is politeness and it takes nothing and means even less. Being considerate means that you've taken all those life lessons and chosen, yes chosen, to not only adhere to societal norms for you, but for the other person. When people are considerate, you'll know it. Unless of course, you're the type who takes to the streets and the internet every time someone doesn't say "Bless you."

Monday, June 4, 2018

My New Health Kick

Last month, I celebrated two years of being vegan and 30 months of being vegetarian. I've been taking multivitamins, calcium with D-3 and been more active than I have in years past, although I've still avoided the working out I know I need. Due to recent weight gain, I've decided to give intermittent fasting a try. I've read a lot about the benefits, but I'm not quite ready to jump into a one day a week 24 hour fast, so I'm taking baby steps.

I guess you could say I'm fasting slow.

Starting last week, I've been making sure not to eat for at least 12 hours after my last meal.  Over the course of the first seven days, my shortest fast was 12 hours and 10 minutes, while my longest was 14 hours and 30 minutes. My goal is to shrink my eating hours, so I'll stick to the 12-hour scheme for another week, take the average fasting time and make that my new goal. The end goal is to get to where I am eating during a six to eight-hour window. While this sounds easy, one must remember, I wake up around 4:30 every morning, so if I eat dinner at 7 PM, that's two and a half hours I have to wait to have a breakfast.

One note, for anyone who may critique my way of doing it is, I am not including beverages like water, tea or coffee. Yes, coffee has calories, but I'm not trying to do this for anyone else's benefit, but my own. If anyone has any tips, ideas, or their own experiences, please feel free to share, either here or privately. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Please Friends, Put Down The Phone

Walks in the Park
Aunts and Uncles

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

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

In Memoriam

For Shane

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

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

Monday, May 7, 2018

March & April Movies 2018

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Today's Kids = Today's Parents

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

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

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Molly & Me

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

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

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

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

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

Below is a link to Miss Ringwald's wonderful article

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Blurred Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I'm Old

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stop Blaming Technology

Television. Video Games. Smart Phones.

These are just three of the excuses people make for the supposed lack of respect today's youth have for society, authority and what their elders view as themselves. Let me tell you something mom, dad and "authority," it ain't their use of these things that created this illusion, it's yours.

Parents today watch so much more television than the generation before them, but less news. Their kids however are watching so little TV, that it must be marketed to adults, which means, the shows, commercials and messages are being catered to this misconception that kids are controlled, by the very thing they are.

Video games are more popular than ever and played by teens, millennials and even their parents, but here's the thing mom and dad. If you truly believe that video games create an anarchist child, why are you shelling out the money for them? Is it possible, they work as childcare that you're too lazy to administer?

Finally, today's parents need to stop blaming technology for their kid's lack of attention or care. The past two weekends, I saw photos from tons of St. Paddy's Day parades and in nearly all of them, an adult being photographed, had a phone in their hand. Let's not forget, the photographer themselves, took the family time to snap the photo, then filter it, then post it to as many as four social media sites.

Kids today? They're worried that their parents can't look up long enough to watch them grow, without posting about it on social media and they don't want to get shot in science class.

Who knows? Science class may not even be around for their kids if this latest generation of parents has their say.

If there's a single cause to the effect that is being screamed at by today's mom and dad, it may boil down to a simple word. No, not technology. Parenting. Hands on, not hands free.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring Forward

What would you choose if you really could fast forward or skip an hour. Would it be an hour of work, school or some monotonous chore? Would it be your kids little league tryout, making small talk with some parent you'd rather not engage with? Would it be your daily commute, locked in a tube with someone who forget their Right Guard? Would it be the hour before sleep, lying next to the significant other you've grown tired of? Would it be the first hour of any given day, when we rise in fear, as others embrace the day, silently yelling "Carpe Diem!" as if they own some rights to the morning's light. Would it be the last hour, alone in the dark, thoughts racing, as you try with all your might, to make them stop?

Friday, March 2, 2018

January & February Movies - 2018

After a mediocre January, I'm back to a lethargic movie watching start. Work, situation and adult ADD has taken control of my life. I need more movies!

  1. Across the River - More interesting in how it looks than in the content. Meh!
  2. Kong Skull Island - Silly, poorly acted and a set up for sequels. John C Reilly almost saves it.
  3. La Jetee (Re-watched) - Chris Marker's short is one of, if not the greatest Sci-fi film ever made.
  4. The Earrings of Madame De ... - One of the most perfectly shot films. Fun, simple and brilliant.
  5. A Ghost Story - Great idea, but comes of as a youthful, amateurish attempt to be profound.
  6. 47 Meters Down - May have taken the title of worst movie ever made.
  7. Der Samurai - Bizarre film about sword wielding nut. An odd take on a werewolf film!
  8. Dunkirk - A rare short war film. Without a doubt Christopher Nolan's best film. 
  9. Sawdust and Tinsel - A rare Bergman film that is simply good. Bibi shines!
  10. Our Friend, Martin - Animated. MLK, time travel and changing times. Doesn't always work.
  11. Dig Two Graves - Looks great and the lead gives it her all, but the film lacks depth.
  12. Russian Ark - Sokurov's incredible 90-minute, single shot, is remarkable, but incredibly boring.
  13. The Passion of Anna - Bergman uses four characters to show us the cracks in all of us.
  14. Throne of Blood (RW) - Kurosawa's brilliant Macbeth adaptation. Mifune shines!
  15. Mother! - Aronofsky's biblical tale will confuse many. This one will take another viewing.
  16. Pi (RW) - Aronofsky's first is revered, but I still believe is his weakest effort.
  17. The Lion King - After many years I finally watched and unimpressed. Worst Disney film.
  18. La La Land - Beautiful. Stone and Gosling are this generation's dynamic duo. 
  19. Deep Red - Argento's film feels like a scene by scene homage to past films, artwork and music.
  20. Red Beard - It seems unthinkable to suggest this, but it may be better than Seven Samurai.
  21. Manhunter - Rewatched cinema's introduction into the world of Hannibal Lecter. Still great!
  22. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer - Bizarrely perfect. Kidman is amazing. Lanthimos' best so far.
  23. Chungking Express - Kar-Wai Wong's film feels like a how-to on film making. Beautiful!
  24. Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters - Animated. Great anime, but 30 minutes in, it was too boring.
  25. Force Four aka Black Force - It as sentimental value.
  26. Ashes of Time Redux - Wong Kar-Wai's dreamlike tale. Good? Not sure it matters/
  27. Hell or High Water - Brilliantly acted, and thank goodness, because Sheridan's script is gold.
  28. Born in China - Despite my love of animals and nature, the narration is so dumb, it's awful
  29. Evolution - Feels like a low budget version of A Cure for Wellness. Better in every way.
  30. Mindhunter (Series) - Snappy dialogue, likable characters and fascinating subject matter.
  31. Le Ballon Rouge - Revisited my favorite short film of all-time. Still beautiful!
  32. Jackie - I adore Portman, but this was a drag. Sarsgaard and the accents were perfect though.

Top Three: Dunkirk, Red Beard, The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Bottom Three: 47 Meters Down, The Lion King, Kong: Skull Island
Biggest Surprise: Dunkirk
Biggest Letdown: The Lion King 

Monday, February 26, 2018

OCD For Others

As a teen and young adult, I, like many Americans, collected a lot of stuff. The problem with stuff is that you need a place for it. As most of us know, when you accumulate, you create clutter. If you do this enough, they have a name for you; hoarder.

I'm 47-years-old and I've never had less stuff in my life. I am not obsessed with order, or even neatness, in my life, but I tend to show signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when it comes to other people's stuff or making other's lives easier. I don't think about it until after, or until someone comments, but it bothers me.

The other day, I was on line in the checkout aisle and I loaded the conveyor belt with my items. Small cans, large cans, small jars and large jars, all rows of two. Then boxes were lined up, one at a time, large to small. Frozen veggies were then placed in one row, followed by the bulk of my order, fresh produce and fruit, all lined by which could handle weight on top of it. Finally, was my hummus, chips and bread. This, because it's what I knew I'd be eating first. When I got home, I brought the groceries in the house. Lined up the frozen veggies in the freezer, loaded the fruits and vegetable drawers, then put all the canned and jarred products on the shelf with similar products, lines of three, labels showing in the front. When I was done, I went to scoop out some hummus into a smaller bowl, opened the dishwasher to put the spoon in, then rearranged the dirty silverware, so that the small forks and spoons were with small forks and spoons, the large forks and spoons were with large forks and spoons and knives were with knives.

I then threw my sweatshirt over the back of a chair and forgot it there. Went upstairs to my unmade bed and looked at the printer on the floor, black garbage bags filled with clothes I've yet to unpack and my laundry bag, filled, waiting to be washed. Swag's food, on a towel, in the corner of the room, his toys and scratch pad scattered about. This doesn't bother me, because my life is just as easy with those things in disarray, as the cashier's life was made by my efforts. The food downstairs is where I straddle the line of OCD for others and for myself.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Question for Pretty Much Everyone

Recently, at work, I've noticed the boys, 3rd to 5th graders have been feeling their oats. I'm fine with that and I, more than most, understand there's a real difference between boys being boys and abuse. When they are alone, playing sports such as basketball, dodge ball or four square, that they are "playing with our balls." It was funny the first time, but in day 100, it's wearing thin. What I do not like, is when they make these jokes and any other innuendo around the younger boys or the girls; including staff.

This is where the question in my title comes from. Aside from this, I see them asking questions, making comments, disobeying or ignoring the female staff, much more so than they do the male staff. I should point out that while dealing with kids, over two decades, I don't use a whistle and I have yelled, maybe three or four times, ever. It's just not how I teach. The last few days, the disrespect for the female staff has increased and I've tried to nip it in the bud, but I'm hesitant. Here is why. I myself try very hard not to comment about anything at work that could be construed as sexist. I work with young, fit and to be quite honest, some beautiful young women, but I never do anything to convey that, because firstly, they are my coworkers, but also, I truly respect the job they do, especially one of them. She happens to be the youngest, but she's also the most hard-working and efficient person there. I definitely don't look at her as an equal, but above me, despite us technically having the same status.

So am I wrong to "stick up" for my female coworkers, by defending them, but also demanding that the young boys specifically treat them better? I feel, in this day and age, my singling out them as being mistreated demeans them slightly, because if the children's actions bothered them, they could discipline them themselves. Or, as I hope is correct, I am simply trying to reverse some cultural and societal norms, ones these kids may be learning at home, in school, or on teams or groups, that many adults, both male and female, are ingraining in them?

I fear I've been too wordy, too unclear and made a simple question into a more complex situation, but while I have no regrets from a teaching standpoint, I do find myself questioning whether or not, in my desire for equality, I myself acted in a sexist fashion.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Religion and School Shootings

Copied from a Facebook post I wrote earlier, because I'm exhausted from reading this same, tired argument, the day after every school shooting.

 Anyone who knows me, knows I'm the least religious person on the planet, but some of you may also know I was minoring in religion in college and I'm fascinated by it. Not so much the fictional tales, but the fact that religion, in most cases, is simply a set of common sense laws, with the threat of punishment, that may or may not exist. It was used to control the masses, in a time when education was lacking, so the idea of judgement was terrifying, so it worked. What is also interesting is that it wasn't viewed so much as a religion, but a way of life. Especially religions like Judiasm, Islam, Buddhism and for devout Christians, their branches.

 In today's America, most devout Christians, especially Roman Catholics, tend to be conservative by nature. We view this as a manifestation of political ideals, but in reality, it's true Christian values, which are inherently good. The real problem is that our world is a violent one, much as the world of Jesus was, and definitely the world of the Roman Empire. Over the years, the idea of dying for your country, your religion and your ideals, has grown into this scare tactic, as if the fight is more important than the sacraments or even the word of God. I have noticed that whenever there is a school shooting, people Christian Conservatives immediately point out that a possible reason is because we don't allow guns and The Bible into our schools. I've always found it fascinating that these people call themselves Constitutional Patriots, but ignore the separation of church and state, and call themselves Christians, but ignore the concept of non-violence, a staple of the Bible, especially in the teachings of the man their religion is named after.

 I respect everyone's belief system, as long as they actually comprehend the religion they claim to practice. I also respect everyone's love of this country, as long as they comprehend this country's Constitution and laws. I respect everyone's opinions about church and state, as long as the two never shall meet. What I don't understand is the need to use religion as a defense of personal infringement, while defending someone who chose, whether mentally equipped to know better or not, to shoot and kill seventeen people. That argument is neither constitutionally sound, or even remotely Christian. In fact, it's the polar opposite of the two most (mis)quoted documents on social media.

 I hope, because I do not pray, that nobody I know, ever loses a child to this type of tragedy, because I can't imagine what it must be like, in this day and age, to read people defending a maniac's rights, let alone to hear and read the leader of the nation enact laws to assist in this occurrence. I hope people on both sides of this argument leave religion out of it. I also hope they realize the Second Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with personal gun ownership, and definitely not an AR-15 or any other type of assault weapons (btw, they are actually called ASSAULT rifles). I hope people look at this from a single argument. Are our children safer with guns or without. It's actually that simple. Ask Australia!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Personal Paradox

I despise routine, but equally loathe change for the sake of change.
I love the snow, but old bones have made me hate the cold.
I hate the summer, but those same old bones have me embracing its warmth.
I am a morning person and an evening person.
I went vegan, because of my feeling for all sentient beings being equal, yet I'd argue no humans are equal, other than in their rights to equality.
I am lethargic when it comes to beginning a project, but laser-like precise with time management.
I love working with kids, but I've grown fond of those breaks from the little ones.
I crave intelligent conversation, but choose solitude.
I'm considered intelligent, but fail in all those things intelligent people usually succeed.
I am a family person, who rarely speaks to anyone, but my brother, and very rarely.
I am there for my friends, but shun those who try to help me.
I despise personal debts, but I am overcome by them.
I avoid repayment from others, but it's oddly needed at times.
I miss people I've never met, more than those I know well.
I love sharing sunsets and the evening sky, but prefer sunrises alone.
I crave companionship, but solitude is bliss.
I detest drama, but it seems to gravitate towards me.
I don't understand materialism, but am surrounded by it.
I've never understood those who speak to themselves, but have had long conversations about it with myself.
I look down on ignorance, but find it harder to manipulate than the wise.
I'd love to spread my wings, but the comfort of the nest is so appealing.
I in my life, I've spent more time in the house, than out, but less time at home, than within.
I don't care for admiration, but crave acknowledgement.
I have great love for some, but avoid the words at all costs.
In my silly blogs, especially as of late, I try to avoid, at all costs, starting sentences with "I."

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trump's First SOTU Address - My Take

Copied from my Facebook page
As you can imagine, I'm not very popular on the complain about traffic, job, kids, friends, coworkers and life in general for attention website.

A few takeaway's from Trump's first State of the Union Address!

Trump praised all the right things to start

But to believe they are great, one would have to admit, that Obama made them great and Trump simply let them stay the course.

Trump praised police

But to believe this is sincere, you have understand that by attacking the FBI, ignoring gun laws and by antagonizing minorities and poor people, by increasing marijuana arrests, making moves to privatize prisons and kill public education, he is putting police in grave danger. If by praise, he's commending them on handling it, then yes, he is in their corner.

Trump was truthful and exaggerated his tax cut work

But to believe they are great, you have to ignore that 20% goes to the top 1%, 60% goes to the top 20% and within 10 years, 50% of the US will see a tax increase, while the top 1% will receive 80% of the benefits.

Trump is right about the Dow Jones

But to believe this is great, you have to own stock in one of the 30 companies that comprises it. 99% of the stock is owned by 20% of the investors. Less than 50% of American invest, so 99% is owned by 10% of the country. The average investor has less than $15,000 invested, so if there's been $8 trillion gained, well you figure out who has benefited. Also, if you accept the Dow as a positive for our economy, then Obama did a better job, by percentage, than Trump did and the Dow would have to reach 50,000 for Trump to match him.

Trump is right that auto factories are leaving Mexico

But to believe this is a positive, you need to understand that for every one factory moving back to the US, ten are being opened in China and other parts of Asia.

If you got through the first half and you're clapping

You have to realize, Trump's praising Obama's policies and Hillary's promises. So if you believe he was truthful, you'll have to say the previous eight years were pretty amazing, or you're simply biased.

Then came the second half, where he didn't mix words.

Trump believe all Mexicans are bad
He spoke more about MS-13 than he did about Dreamers
He spoke about border security more than Mexican influence
He spoke about crime and drugs, not agriculture and business

Trump doesn't think very highly of black people
He spoke about low unemployment, as if it wasn't low before
He spoke about respecting the flag, as if it's a black thing

Trump spoke about his VA bill, hailing the firing of 1,500 "bad" employees and calling for accountability.
This is a good thing, if not for the fact that those 1,500, plus 35,000 other positions have not been filled. Including 4 director's positions.
He mentioned the importance of mental health and veteran's now being able to use doctor's outside of the VA. This sounds convenient, but the lack of funding will create the need to privatize the VA, something every veterans committee is against.

Trump spoke about Unity, despite consistently using social media to call out people using terms like "Crying," "Lying," "Lil," and "Pocahontas." His speech, claimed to be bipartisan, but clearly spoke to his base. He ignored the achievements he inherited and put a negative spin, claiming his lifting of regulations was the cause, when in fact, it reverses what made things great. He ignored our energy growth, then claimed the use of some mythical "clean coal" is our future.

He mentioned Gangs
He mentioned ISIL
He mentioned North Korea
He made no mention of our single greatest threat - Russia

To believe Trump's speech was truthful, one would have to pretend the Obama presidency never occurred
To believe Trump's speech was meant for all of us, you need to pretend, we're all still believing in this mythical American Dream.
To believe Trump's speech was about unity, you need to forget his campaign, his twitter account, his leaks, and most of all, the words that he's uttered himself.

If you believe, Trump's speech was about the State of the Union as a whole, you need to have been ignoring the last two years of your life.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Starbucks vs Childcare

"I'll have a venti mocha soy skim latte and a buttered bagel. Oh yeah, and a bottled water." She asks him if that will be all, he confirms and follows her instructions to pull up to the next window. He hands her a $10 bill and she gives him his change. A single dollar and some coins. He places them in the car's compartments and drives off.

He gets home that evening and he and his wife argue about the cost of their child's after-school program. He calls it outrageous. The $200 for 17 1/2 hours a week bothers him. The $40 a day for 3 1/2 hours bothers him. The $11.43 per hour bothers him.

He leaves for work the following morning. Opens the door, grabs the quarter full cold coffee cup and throws it in the trash, sprinkles the plants with the remainder of the bottled water and places it in the recycling. Straps his child into the child safety, looks back and smiles. "If you only knew how much money I spend on you."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sometimes The Message Is Lost On White People

Recently, I was at an MLK Day luncheon in Ithaca and the lunch itself was to raise money, awareness and activism in honor of the man many believe to be one of America's greatest, if not the greatest, activists. The room was filled with people of various racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds, but the majority, a far greater majority than which represents the country, was white.

There were folks singers, singing Arlo Guthrie's response to Francis Scott Keys' Star-Spangled Banner, the folk classic, This Land is Our Land to start it off. Then there was a Native American couple, speaking in their tribe's native language, telling us about their land and immigration. Then a group of angry high school kids, screaming about not getting parts, because of the lack of diversity. This all ended with different groups, all of different backgrounds, introducing their workshop programs, all to follow the luncheon. Very few people listen, as they ate their free food. Privileged people, listening to those on the "stage," speak of poverty, oppression and civil rights. They clapped furiously at first, then a little softer, their muttering soon matching the volume of those with the microphone. Then we took our kids and left, off to another center, where a choice of activities was given, ours choosing play, although it did consist of an urban game.

It dawned on me, especially after living in Ithaca for a few years, that white people, especially white liberals, love being connected to activism and what they feel is action directed at important social issues, but how much they hear, from those who are actually affected by the topics they choose to champion, is very little. Sympathy is not empathy, and old adages aside, most of these people, despite dressing in homeless-chic, are walking in their own designer shoes and always have. Poverty may inflict itself upon them, but there was no life of sorrow on their faces. Then again, those who have endured it, persevere, so they hide it from their white counterparts. Many of the speakers, especially the younger ones, had anger in their voices, apparently missing the point and the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many quoted others, seemingly forgetting his words. At one point yesterday, I asked my boss, who was there, "Did they even mention MLK?" She paused, though, then looked up, "NO!"

As I've said before, one of the reason many whites have a hard time embracing Dr. King's philosophy, is that it's so similar to that of Jesus. In The Bible, Jesus is a very different man, than those who follow are taught about in church and if one were to believe what is taught in out culture, Jesus is even further removed from how he's depicted in The Bible. Dr. King, like Jesus, wanted those to do for others, before themselves. To do for the cause, understanding they may never see the fruits of their labor in life. To understand that their children and grandchildren, and those of their neighbors, would prosper from their work. It's a tough pill to swallow for many and as someone who has seen the struggle of whites and blacks, who do, not for them, but for their children and their children's children, it's done similarly, but with a completely different understanding of why and why it matters.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Happy" Anniversary

Today, well today at around 6pm, it will mark one year since I've lived where I am currently living. To say it's a happy anniversary would be a lie, but it wouldn't be a stretch to say it's a happier anniversary.

Living in another person's home, especially a couple, is an odd situation and it's taken me a long time to get comfortable. OK, that is a lie. It's still uncomfortable. Not feeling as if the space is mine, is at times, depressing, but at others, just plain lonely. One of the hardest parts of being part of another's life is failed expectations. If there has been any lesson taken, it's that family dynamics are not universal. The things one person covets, another takes for granted. Some families crave material items, while others simply enjoy time. Without dissecting my entire existence, and that of my landlords, let's just say, if I had tried to chose two people less like me, with less in common and views on day-to-day life more opposing than mine, I would have failed. That being said, I've learned a lot about myself, and of others. To say I understand it, would be a lie. I also want people to understand, these are good people. People I like very much and would do almost anything for, but the little things (and some big), we simply differ on.

This year has been a trying one. In many ways, more trying than others, but in some ways more relaxed. I'm reading more. Having a few cocktails when I want, cooking and laughing more, and despite it being only slight, thinking less. This is a good thing.

I'll cut this short, because of the last point in the last paragraph, but just want those who have assisted during this journey, you are not and will not be forgotten. You held my hand, hugged me and kissed my forehead, even if through a screen. You were the rocks I needed, when I needed it most. You made me laugh, when I wanted to cry and you gave me that flicker, when it was pretty dark in here. But most of all, you were present. If I am able to be there this year, and years to come, even a fraction as much as you've been there for me, I will.

Thank You!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


I have rallied for and against this whole concept of Millennials. I hate the thought that an entire generation is being labeled for the actions, or better yet, the inaction of the majority. Yes, this is how stereotypes work, but in a country where someone can be elected to represent the masses, while only appealing to 45-46 percent of the people, it's unfair. Hashtag Resist Millennial Labeling.

When does this tag begin and end? Every generation has their go-getters and their slackers. Many times, both are wrapped into one person. Yet, we always assume that the younger generation will fight to undo the perception they are lazy. Not this new generation. The new crop of 18-25 year old "kids," on the whole, are some of the laziest people I've ever seen and please, don't believe simply going to school and/or having a job is an accomplishment. They're supposed to do both and if they are only doing one, do that one to not only the best of their abilities, but better. 

And here we are. People taking off work to study, as if that's a real life scenario. Can you imagine telling your boss at 35-65, you need to take off of work, because you have something important to do, with the expectation you'll be leaving this job for greener pastures? You'd be laughed at mightily, as your desk was being cleaned out. Can you imagine coming into work and playing with your hair or discussing your hard life to your boss, as your coworkers worked ten feet away? Can you imagine routinely coming in two, maybe three minutes, knowing that the most strenuous part of the day is the first ten minutes and the last twenty? Can you imagine watching coworkers sweep, lift boxes, tables, and monitor theirs and your station, while you get your winter clothing on early, as not to make your ride home wait? I could go on, but you get the picture.

Here is where it all gets so maddening. These "kids," don't even know it's wrong. They aren't scolded and told to shut up and do their job. The expectations aren't as high, because of their generation. They have a lot on their plate. They're stressed. They didn't get enough sleep. They are going through a transition. The list goes on, not of why they can't simply do as much as the rest, but why we can't confront them, but here is where it borders on insanity. The same generation who condemns them lackadaisical work ethic, their excuses and their overall malaise; yes, the same damn group that named them, are not only the ones who created them, but, and here's where my blood boils, have decided that they should get paid as much as those with five, ten, twenty and even thirty years experience, simply because they've somehow grown up in a time of blanket equality, as long as your young and white and have a college degree or are trying to achieve one. 

I walked into a situation a few months ago, where I was the new guy. Twenty plus years of experience and every day I asked what to do, if I was doing it correctly, and offered to stay late. I've been on time twice, late once, early over fifty times. I do as much of the physical work as possible, so those who are much better at the details can do their job. They too are younger, but I realized, by putting forth a certain amount of effort, they, most already very good at what they do, started picking up their pace, which made me pick up mine. We now, all of us, but two, do in ten minutes, what used to take twenty and now we do more. At the end of the day, when we're all tired, we do our work, plus the work of two others and we do it in half the time. Some want to call them millennials, but maybe, they're just the kids of the same lazy kids who were Gen X'ers, baby boomers and whatever came before. Heaven help their offspring, because getting out of bed my be considered a sacrifice and their parents may choose to protect them from such demands. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Not Resolutions

I don't believe in resolutions, because the idea that giving up what makes you happy, is a positive, is ludicrous to me. The idea to set a goal, means that goal wasn't something you desire to achieve, but simply something you feel you should. The idea to make a bucket list, means you have an emptiness, one that could, most likely, be filled with something small. The idea we need stuff, need events, need to rid ourselves of indulgence is silly to me.

I want to add more reading this year. I read a ton, but mostly on a laptop and my eyesight is starting to go due to it. I want to sit quietly for a few minutes a day, maybe ten, maybe two hours, and read something that isn't news or some research, based on the daily debate. I won't do it every day, just when I feel I'm falling into routine.

I want to try fasting. Not for health reasons necessarily, but to see how I change because of it. Will it make me abstain from snacking on days I'm eating? Will I sleep better? Will I have more energy? I do not know, but when I think about it, I fast, roughly, from 7pm until 5am every day. So why not make it 7pm to 7am every day? Why not make it 7pm to 7pm one day? Why not see how it feels?

I want to watch more movies this year, because they make me happy. It's something I don't share with many. I tried speaking to someone about a movie the other day. One I thought they'd appreciate the art in and they used to so very common response, "Oh it has subtitles? I don't want to read a movie." I'll keep my movies to myself. It'll be my thing.

I want to make a new friend. One who I can trust with the things I need to discuss about people they don't know. I want to hang out again. It's been a while since I've sat at a bar, ignoring the game I just had to see and laughed. I don't want to spend the money, but I need that again.

I want to move. This may not happen this year, but my old bones are tired of the cold. I want to be warm. I want to be outside. This past summer, I spent more time in the sun than in the last ten years combined. It refreshed me. I do not have the funds for travel, but this country should not bind me. I would move anywhere, but I need money. I am terrified of having the same complaints on January 7, 2019, as I have today. Thoughts are always appreciated, but so many take minimal funds for granted. I'm not living paycheck to paycheck, I'm living day to day. I'm out of favors, so the options are limited.

I want to have more days of silence. The hum of lights, computers and the rambling on of someone else's television or phone. It's a stress I never realized before. I go to speak and people look down, a beep is more important than my voice, so maybe not using it is the key. Inspired by someone's retreat, I see their glow. As if they had the best sex ever, yet, they were alone. Silent. Six days. She told of how the sounds all around us are amazing, when they are all we have. Even the scraping of a spoon in a bowl, takes on a pleasant tone. You're eating and that brings happiness without the mental clutter.

I want to be happier. I want those I care about to be happier. I've long cared about their happiness more than my own. Maybe I'll try to fast from that for a bit too. Maybe indulge my own sense of glee, not at their expense, but with full knowledge that a happy me is more beneficial to them. It's been too long since I've felt that overall feeling. I forget it to be honest. I'm not depressed, but happiness is more elusive as we age, than in our youth. It's one thing I will always envy my grandmother for. One hundred years and almost every moment, even when struggling, she embraced each day with the same vigor, because she was happy. Happy to think about the walk she'd take, the drink she'd sip and the story she'd tell. Happy to take that walk, take that sip and tell that story. Happy to remember that walk, savor that sip and smile that someone enjoyed what she shared. Must be nice to live so simple an existence and to do it for so long, but even more so to understand, her happiness was contagious.

Not resolutions, so when one or all fail or succeed, we'll just chalk it up to luck and life.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Movies of 2017

  1. Dog Eat Dog - Nic Cage in the most Nic Cage-y movie ever. Dafoe too. So bad it's good!
  2. The Measure Of A Man - Dignity and principles challenged. The acting is mesmerizing.
  3. Real Genius (re-watched) - Silly, possibly bad, but so damn likable. So 80's!
  4. Little Sister - Simple, yet complex story about Addison Timlin dazzles.
  5. Under The Shadow - Iranian horror blends reality, delusion and metaphors almost perfectly.
  6. The Rezort - Jurassic World meets The Walking Dead, written by the folks at Grey's Anatomy.
  7. Mea Culpa - French thriller, uses a cliche premise, but makes it work wonderfully. 
  8. Carnage Park - Solid first hour, then falters in finale. Wonderful performance by lead Bell.
  9. Victim - Short film based on Slenderman story. Felt like a live-action version of online game.
  10. Shorts: 3;07AM, JPGs, Fathom, HAM, Snap - Ham was best of bunch, with John C Reilly.
  11. Queen of Earth - Elisabeth Moss in award worthy role about woman's descent into depression.
  12. Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things - Awful, but somehow it's pure 70's fun.
  13. The Monster - Openly metaphoric tale of mother's struggle and its affect on her daughter. A+!
  14. Grizzly - 70's animal attack video. Fun, but silly. Jaws with Claws tagline is a hint.
  15. POD - Mickey Keating strikes again, Decent idea, but poorly though out with awful ending.
  16. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter - Photography helps, but film fails on too many levels. 
  17. Bill Burr: Walk Your Way Out - Strong start, but falters, when audience doesn't respond.
  18. Shorts:  Zero - Decent, but silly ending. Puzzle - Fun, but predictable.
  19. The Collector - Nice premise ruined by repetitive scenes. Silly throw-ins mean nothing.
  20. The Iron Giant - I'm late to this wonderful animated film about friendship and much more.
  21. Ataud Blanco (White Coffin) - Argentinian horror. One of the most unsettling films ever made.
  22. Stutterer - Oscar winning short. A man trapped within himself. Difficult, sad, beautiful.
  23. Shorts: Das Rad - Rocks talking and observing. Edward - Man collects what falls underground.
  24. Howl - Silly werewolf tale, that fails to grab and plays into every cliche, with no message.
  25. Short: Mr. Hublot - Brilliant film about a recluse with OCD and what makes him break.
  26. Sing Street - While not as deep as similar films, it hits every mark it aims for. Pure fun!
  27. Voice Without A Shadow - Early Seijun Suzuki. This noir, shows his style and early promise.
  28. The Handmaiden - Chan-wook Park's beautifully, bold tale excels. Chemistry is amazing.
  29. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Re-watched) - Still one of the greatest of all-time.
  30. Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre - It was that kind of night. Funny, but not that funny!
  31. American Experience: Leopold and Loeb - Well done, but nothing new.
  32. Jim Norton: Mouthful of Shame - Norton takes taboo subjects and makes them funny.
  33. The Warlords - Epic tale starring Jet Li. Starts strong, but becomes repetitive and cliche.
  34. Ten - Abbas Kiarostami allows Mania Akbari to define being a woman in modern day Iran. 
  35. Train to Busan - Rarely does a horror film surpass the hype. Nothing new, but excels.
  36. The Invitation - Interesting premise plays out almost exactly as predicted. Silly "twist."
  37. Dave Chappelle Netflix - Two parts, each perfectly crafted and somehow allowably offensive.
  38. The Phoenix Tapes '97 - Found footage stays true to footage, but boring, silly finale.
  39. Frailty (Re-watched) - A nearly perfect little thriller. Paxton also directed. He is sorely missed.
  40. Phantom Of The Theatre - Beautifully to look at, but I lost interest quickly. Just misses mark.
  41. Eat - Psychological horror that is pretty gross, but is just witty enough to work.
  42. Shorts: In This House - Demonic possession with a twist. Baby Monitor - Silly Scenarios
  43. Ghost In The Shell (1995) - The most complex "cartoon" ever made? Amazing in every way.
  44. The Eyes Of My Mother - Artsy but, can't hide the torture porn simplicity. Dull and uninspired.
  45. Destiny - Fritz Lang's classic, may not be his best, but the impact on the craft is evident.
  46. The Third Man - More style than substance, with humor pushing it along. That ending though!
  47. The Windmill - Run-of-the-mill (pun intended) horror with some nice little twists.
  48. Kubo and The Two Strings - One of the greatest animated films ever made! 
  49. Hero (re-watched) - One of the most beautiful movies ever made and a top 10 ending.
  50. The Greasy Strangler = Easily one of the strangest, and worst, movies ever made.
  51. Short: Escape - Very short anime is beautiful, but rather pointless in its short form.
  52. The Childhood Of A Leader - Superb acting and brilliant score overshadows odd, weak ending.
  53. Gozu - Takashi Miike channels his inner David Lynch for this one. Weird. Weird. Weird.
  54. Midnight In Paris - Woody Allen's most beautiful and charming film. Art lover's homage.
  55. Despicable Me - Boring, run of the mill kiddie flick, with nice ending. Minions are annoying.
  56. The Jungle Book - Not as much fun or as uplifting as some remakes, but gritty tale.
  57. Mifune: The Last Samurai - Average documentary, lifted by subject matter and wonderful clips
  58. Over The Garden Wall - Not the best, but fun animated tale with obvious messages. 
  59. Cloverfield - One of the worst horror movies ever made and it's found footage. UGH!
  60. Home - Animated film about girl love, family and friendship. Jim Parsons' voice is grinding.
  61. Delhi Safari - Overly drawn out and unnecessary violence, but a good message,
  62. Zombie Dawn - Awful micro budget horror, with hilariously serious narration.
  63. Manchester by the Sea - Don't believe the hype. Williams is only bright spot. Awful script.
  64. Frozen (again) - Great music, but awful movie with worse message for little girls.
  65. Imprint - Seriously low budget. Native American crime thriller is an absolute bore. 
  66. Bruges La Morte - Attempt to be artsy is more annoying than anything else. Horrible.
  67. Hector - Everything Manchester by the Sea tried to be. Mullan pulls it through it's weaknesses.
  68. Tokyo Tribe - Japanese, Hip-Hop, Gangster film. Somehow it not only works, but well!
  69. Norm McDonald: Hitler's Dog, Gossip and Trickery - Rather steady, but at times, pure gold! 
  70. The Birth of Sake - Documentary tries to romanticize, but there's no history. Odd approach.
  71. Denial - Poor writing, directing and editing, but acting is stellar. Could have been great.
  72. Kill Ugly TV - I may have completely misread this film, but found it extremely deep.
  73. Tag - Insane Japanese film combining over-the-top horror with a strong feminist message.
  74. The Similars - Mexican homage to The Twilight Zone. Too drawn out and never really clicks.
  75. Hunt For The Wilderpeople - Amazing funny, touching story, with some serious cast chemistry.
  76. Jim Gaffigan: Cinco - Not his best, but quite a few laugh out loud moments.
  77. The Kid (Re-watched) - Charlie Chaplin's classic comedy still packs an emotional punch
  78. Monsters - Gareth Edwards low budget monster film attempts to say a lot. Fails miserably.
  79. Sherlock: Season 4 - Possibly the best season in one of the greatest TV series' ever
  80. The Girl With All The Gifts - New take on zombies. Lags often, but ends spectacularly. 
  81. Citizen X (Re-watched) - One one of the most underrated films ever made. Cast shines!
  82. The Blackcoat's Daughter - Atmospheric garbage by Oz Perkins. Oddly, the acting is top notch.
  83. Black Belly Of The Tarantula - Giallo. Beauties and young Gianinni. Works, but a bit boring.
  84. Sarah Silverman: A Speck Of Dust - Her delivery is like no other and it works magnificently. 
  85. Headshot - It's no Raid: Redemption, but unreal action and violence and non-stop energy.
  86. The Image (short) - Young David Bowie as painting comes to life, with It Follows vibe. 
  87. The Keepers (series) - Strong start, but too much staged dramatization, hurts message.
  88. Blondie's New York - Doc about making of Parallel Lines. Very good and personally important.
  89. Dead Silence - Horrible James Wan film about dolls, spirits and bad script writing.
  90. In The Mouth Of Madness - Solid Carpenter, starting to feel dated. Uneven Sam Neill.
  91. I Am Not Your Negro - Powerful! Baldwin's tale is infuriating in that we've not come very far.
  92. Carnival Of Souls - The version I saw was colorized and this film needs to be in B&W!
  93. The Salvation - Fun, if not silly Western, with marvelous and good looking cast.
  94. The Addiction - Abel Ferrara's 90's vampire flick is a metaphor for everything. Lili Taylor A+
  95. DePalma - Wonderful doc about the director's life in film, his success and many failures.
  96. The Lodger - Silent Hitchcock didn't work for me, other than in it's use of light.
  97. Little Dieter Needs To Fly - Herzog doc that became Rescue Dawn. Painfully dull.
  98. The Snare - Pretty people lose it. We've seen it before. Tries to be cerebral, but fails.
  99. The Void - Homage to Carpenter, Lovecraft and others, suffers from style over substance.
  100. Human Lanterns - Shaw Bros do a martial arts horror movie. Beautiful, but boring.
  101. The Last Man On Earth - Vincent Price as The Omega Man. Dull, rushed, but effective.
  102. Teheran Taxi - Jafar Panahi's Taxi is a beautiful, funny and powerful look at Iran's daily life.
  103. Master Of The Flying Guillotine - Rewatched one of my all-time favorite Kung Fu films
  104. What the Health - Food Doc. Follow up to Cowspiracy. Much better and scary in many ways.
  105. Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge - Short film chronicles woman's life. Wonderfully done
  106. Caged Bird & Airborne - Shorts on Youtube. Del Toro produces beauty and zombie kangaroos.
  107. Antarctica: Ice and Sky - Brutally boring. Sad, because it should be fascinating and important.
  108. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia - Beautifully shot. Powerful. What movies should be!
  109. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - I wanted to like it, but it was bad in every way.
  110. Shame - Being a Bergman classic, I expected more, but Nykvists cinematography is tops.
  111. Here Alone - Zombie movie, but so much more. One of the best horror movies in years.
  112. Rashomon - Re-watched Kurosawa's masterclass in storytelling. A true game changer.
  113. Colours Trilogy: Bleu - Binoche dazzles in visually and musically dazzling Kieslowski film
  114. Colours Trilogy: Blanc - Suffers from dull plot, but makes its point. Just didn't click for me.
  115. Colours Trilogy: Rouge - The best of the three. The clever duality and Irene Jacob shines.
  116. Election - Johnnie To's triad film feels like a weak homage to Goodfellas and alike.
  117. The Spirit Of The Beehive - Second viewing and easily the most complex film I've ever seen.
  118. The Gospel According To St. Matthew - Biblical tour de force from Pasolini. Beautiful.
  119. The Devil's Candy - Solid acting and decent story gives way to horribly silly climax.
  120. Lifeboat - Re-watched. In my opinion, Hitchcock's greatest film.
  121. Strasek, de Vampir - Ode to Dreyer's Vampyr, it looks good in B&W, but fails miserably.
  122. Come and See - Klimov's war film is unlike any other. Viscerally shocking, haunting film.
  123. Gojira (Godzilla) - The original still resonate with it's anti-war message. Maybe more today.
  124. El Topo - The weirdest movie I've ever watched. Jodorowsky is insane.
  125. Ghostbusters (2016) - Exceeded not only expectations, but its predecessor. Yes, I said it!
  126. No Estamos Solos aka We Are Not Alone - Well done, but typical and predictable. Nice finale.
  127. Le Silence de la Mer - Melville's visuals accentuate the silence of all, but one character.
  128. Drunken Angel - It's impossible to believe this was Mifune and Kurosawa's first collaboration.
  129. The Autopsy of Jane Doe - Great cast can't save this. Absolutely awful.
  130. Kanal - Wajda's film develops so many characters, so quickly. Shot beautifully, despite themes.
  131. The Darjeeling Limited - First Wes Anderson film I hated. Truly awful. 
  132. Raw - Average throughout, leading towards boring, but excels in its finale.
  133. Logan - One of the better superhero/comic movies ever. Great action and stands on its own.
  134. Armageddon - Re-watched. So silly, but still a fun movie.
  135. Delta Force - Re-Watched. So campy and very little Chuck during the first half.
  136. Hounds of Love - Good, but disturbing film about domestic violence and kidnapping. 
  137. Don't Breathe - Great idea, fails with lack of tension and ridiculous side story and finale.
  138. Top Of The Lake: China Girl - Impossible to top the original series and doesn't come close.
  139. Split - Shymalan's vision comes to life thanks to McAvoy, Buckley and Taylor-Joy!
  140. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter - More of the same starts to fade, but loved the conclusion.
  141. Woman In The Dunes - Beautiful, haunting and erotic. A film that lingers inside you. 
  142. Peur(s) Du Noir - B&W Animated vignette. Stories are good, but animation is the draw.
  143. Rififi - Sadly, the DVD wouldn't let me finish the movie, but at that point, I stopped caring.
  144. A Dark Song - Nicer to look at than to watch. Worth seeing, but nothing special.
  145. Cria Cuervos - Wonderful acting, but this anti-Franco allegory didn't work for me.
  146. It Comes At Night - Horror fans will hate it, but it's as complex and layered as it gets.
  147. The Babysitter - Samara Weaving is beautiful, but this film struggles with what it wants to be.
  148. Arrival - Amy Adams not being nominated for an Oscar will go down as an all-time snub.
  149. The Steamroller And The Violin - Early Tarkovsky with hints of the classic, The Red Balloon.
  150. Alien: Covenant - It's as bad as you've heard. One of the worst scripts of all-time.
  151. Stranger Things 2 - Worth the binge watch, but pales in comparison to season 1. Still solid.
  152. Letter Never Sent - Surguy Urusevsky's cinematography makes up for dull plot.
  153. Samurai I - Inagaki trilogy begins. Mifune is wonderful, but the story drags.
  154. Samurai II - Slightly better than original, but mostly due to enhanced cinematography.
  155. Samurai III - My favorite of the trilogy. While hardly great, these film's impact is irrefutable.
  156. Patton Oswalt: Annihilation - Tight routine, with poignant and hilarious segment about loss.
  157. Get Out - Starts strong, but disjointed writing, odd shift in tone and horrible ending fails.
  158. War for the Planet of the Apes - The best since the original 1968 film. Sans ending, better.
  159. Capture Kill Release - Decent found footage, completely running on lead actress's insanity.
  160. I Live In Fear - Not one of Kurosawa's best, but timely, then and now. Mifune is stellar.
  161. The Other Side Of The Door - Tension builds and builds...and builds. Ends up being a bore.
  162. One Wonderful Sunday - Early Kurosawa, feels like other's great films. Depressing, but bold.
  163. The Exorcist III: Legion - Re-watched after 27 years. Still better than the original Exorcist.
  164. The Prodigal Son - Martial arts and humor, with more of the latter. A pleasant distraction.
  165. Kristy - Formulaic horror, but is better than average due to realism and strong lead.
  166. Rosa - Strikingly beautiful animated short. Interesting, but needed more. Want more.
  167. Youth of the Beast - Early Seijun Suzuki is more style than substance, but so much style.
  168. Atomic Blonde - Easily Theron and McAvoy's worst roles. So absolutely terrible.
  169. Annabelle Creation - Absolutely terrible. Shockingly bad acting and not a single scare,
  170. Personal Shopper - Assayas almost makes his common mistake, but hands reigns to Stewart!
  171. Bluebeard - Breillat's adaptation worked for me. Loved the simplicity and cinematography.
  172. Eraserhead - Finally saw Lynch's "cult" classic. I wish I hadn't. Dreadful.
  173. Voyage in Time - Documentary with Andrei Tarkovsky and Tonino Guerra. For fans only.
  174. The Orphanage - One of the best and horror movies I've ever seen. So carefully crafted.
  175. Craig Ferguson: Tickle Fight - Amusing, but hardly vintage Ferguson.
  176. The Straight Story - Lynch's simple tale is taken to  unexpected heights, thanks to Farnsworth.
  177. Wonder Woman - Gadot is fun, sexy and committed to the role, but it never clicks.
  178. Loving - Jeff Nichols, once again proves he's one of the best. Ruth Negga is brilliant.
  179. Sisters - Early De Palma stars the stunning Margot Kidder, but comes off as amateurish.
  180. Star Wars: A New Hope - Been almost 30 years since the last time I watched it. Still amazing.
  181. Los Olvidados - My least favorite Bunuel film to date. Grim, with only one likable character.
  182. Bluebeard - Korean psychological thriller that bites off more than it can chew. Rushed ending.
  183. Black Christmas - Cult classic stands up thanks to lovely Hussey and Kidder. Great Saxon!
  184. The Grandmaster - Wong Kar-Wei's film is aesthetically wonderful, but lacked fluidity. 
  185. The Sacrifice - Tarkovsky's finale will leave even his most devout fans, scrambling for words.
  186. The Big Doll House - 70's sexploitation has Pam Grier, a bevvy of beauties and young Sid Haig
  187. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky - Documentary about making of The Sacrifice. Fascinating

Monday, January 1, 2018

December Movies

The slow year ends with only a handful of movies, but a few true gems. Tomorrow or Wednesday I'll post the complete list and my top and bottom picks and biggest surprises and letdowns. I'm always looking for suggestions and thoughts and comments on movies.

  1. Annabelle Creation - Absolutely terrible. Shockingly bad acting and not a single scare,
  2. Personal Shopper - Assayas almost makes his common mistake, but hands reigns to Stewart!
  3. Bluebeard - Breillat's adaptation worked for me. Loved the simplicity and cinematography.
  4. Eraserhead - Finally saw Lynch's "cult" classic. I wish I hadn't. Dreadful.
  5. Voyage in Time - Documentary with Andrei Tarkovsky and Tonino Guerra. For fans only.
  6. The Orphanage - One of the best and horror movies I've ever seen. So carefully crafted.
  7. Craig Ferguson: Tickle Fight - Amusing, but hardly vintage Ferguson.
  8. The Straight Story - Lynch's simple tale is taken to  unexpected heights, thanks to Farnsworth.
  9. Wonder Woman - Gadot is fun, sexy and committed to the role, but it never clicks.
  10. Loving - Jeff Nichols, once again proves he's one of the best. Ruth Negga is brilliant.
  11. Sisters - Early De Palma stars the stunning Margot Kidder, but comes off as amateurish.
  12. Star Wars: A New Hope - Been almost 30 years since the last time I watched it. Still amazing.
  13. Los Olvidados - My least favorite Bunuel film to date. Grim, with only one likable character.
  14. Bluebeard - Korean psychological thriller that bites off more than it can chew. Rushed ending.
  15. Black Christmas - Cult classic stands up thanks to lovely Hussey and Kidder. Great Saxon!
  16. The Grandmaster - Wong Kar-Wei's film is aesthetically wonderful, but lacked fluidity. 
  17. The Sacrifice - Tarkovsky's finale will leave even his most devout fans, scrambling for words.
  18. The Big Doll House - 70's sexploitation has Pam Grier, a bevvy of beauties and young Sid Haig
  19. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky - Documentary about making of The Sacrifice. Fascinating
Top Three: Personal Shopper, The Orphanage, The Straight Story
Bottom Three: Annabelle Creation, Eraserhead, The Big Doll House
Biggest Surprise: The Straight Story
Biggest Disappointment  Wonder Woman