Monday, January 15, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King

We're through the looking glass. People who represent everything the grand legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stands against have today made vain attempts to twist his words to show that their own ideas are good or noble. They debate that Dr. King would have been on their side in their mad quest to turn the US back to the 1800s. And you wonder how they can even fix their mouths to speak such blasphemy.

I don't profess to know all the words preached by Dr. King, but I do know that while he preached for peace and moved in terms of non-violence, he understood that his actions were but part of a greater scheme, one that did include a more militant side. Good protest has always done that - give options to the both the oppressed and the oppressor. Because people are not one-dimensional creatures. And because one hopes the oppressor sees the two possible ways of going forward and chooses to try to work through the peaceful means.

On this day we give thanks for his words and his actions. I only wish that we didn't have more on his path to travel, and that we'd already reached the promised land. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

What I learned 2017

When I was younger, the first few days of January was spent trying to make sure I started the new year off right. This would mean taking pains to make sure the first iteration of everything was positive, from my first meal, the first time I drove, my first brunch, the first TV show I watched, the first store I went into, etc. These little steps, I assured myself, would get the year kicked off on an upward trend upon which I could build. But as I've grown older, I've found that life doesn't work quite like that. In reality they were more like that that annual resolution to go the gym...until at least mid February this time, for sure.

What I've learned it is that good things can happen at any time, not just at some magic moment. Although it doesn't look like it now, a few years ago I started on a program that got me back to within ten pounds of my high school weight. I started it on an odd weekend in July, because that's when I started it. But it worked because I was committed to it. I dutifully ate what I was supposed to eat, did what I was supposed to do and applied myself. I didn't work because I started off the year with healthy meal and wore that shirt that made me look like a movie star (I have one, seriously.)

So in 2018, what my plans are for Commitment to the Idea. The idea itself doesn't really matter, be it start a business, go to Paris, run a marathon, whatever, as long as I'm taking the steps to seriously pursue it, not just dreaming about it and doing things when there is an odd moment. It means doing the research, planning and getting your shit together. This does not necessarily mean it becomes an all consuming drive which reduces all else to nothing, that's not healthy. When I committed to losing that weight it became something I'm always mindful of, like a constant background noise, that guided my conscious choices. Not that I didn't occasionally falter. But a misstep doesn't mean you stop. It means you learn from it and keep going.

It's about getting your mind right. Not because of a deadline. Not because of outside forces. But because you had a choice and you chose to do that thing that would help you get you where you wanted to go. It means making that active choice to do something that might be boring or even unpleasant now so that you can reap the rewards later. And doing it over and over again. It's a value judgement, the choice to commit to getting something done long term even when you perceive what you think of as your short detriment. In my case, it was I can lose the weight, provided I don't eat that hotdog. And I wanted that hotdog. One or two times I even had that hotdog. But the next morning I got back on the path to where I wanted to go. 

So, this year: Get your mind right. Pick a goal. Make a plan to get to that goal. Start. Stick to it until you get to that goal. 
Ask yourself if the argument AND the aftermath is worth it. A lot of folks forget that second part.  

Sometimes they just don't like you. And you don't get to know why. So you suck it up and move on. 

People aren't always as grown as they think they are. 

True love never really dies. It might get put to the side for a while, but when you dust it off it still shines as bright as if brand new. 

Intelligence matters. 

Concentrate on your own shit and let karma deal with the rest. 

More people are interested in change in their favor that equality.

Sometimes your best just isn't good enough. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Five Minutes watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I don't watch a lot of movies. I don't really have time. And I go to the movies even less. Something about Sporty, but that's a whole other issue. So the rarity of which I go, means on average I've spent about five minutes watching every movie made. It's an existential thing, don't concentrate on it.

I don't usually do the most contemporary of movie reviews. I like to watch something three or four times before I try to wrap my whole brain around what the director was trying to say. This however is just shy of garbage so I don't really think any more money needs to be spent. I remember trying to talk some guy on twitter out of a tree over what he thought Cinema Sins was gonna have to say about this movie. I swore to him it was all in jest. To him I say: Dude, I was wrong. Cinema Sins is gonna have a field day. I mean shooting fish in a barrel. My god, the jokes write themselves.

[Spoilers from here on out. And some foul language too]

You ever get the impression you could write a better script than someone who got paid thousands of dollars to so? Post Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Marvel Cinematic Universe why the blue fuck are you shooting "cultural touch-point" film series without an overarching script already in place? Why are there so many holes in the plot? Why wasn't the whole nine hours of new trilogy shot at the same time? That last is particularly troubling. I mean, this is Star Wars, how do you not shoot the whole trilogy as a single movie then split it? And why are these fools proud that they don't know where the story is going? Jesus. And what they finally produce feels too much like an official bootleg  - as The Force Awakens was a reheated New Hope, now the Last Jedi comes off like a knock off Empire Strikes Back. I've already seen this movie. When I was twelve.   

But I digress.

So much, so much wasted.
Let's start at the beginning. First question: How many deck guns are on a Dreadnought? And how big are they? But let's not get into that now, so let's just say Poe is the man and BB8 is the droid and a single X-wing could take them all out. Snicker. You would think there would put extra protection on the vulnerable areas after the Death Star debacle and all that. But anyway.. um, why are the bombers so slow? Why are there even bombers? I realized watching it the idea was to invoke the idea of World War II bombing runs for tension, but in space the bombers should have been as fast as the X-wings. And it's space kids, not the German hinterlands. Why would the bombs fall into the minor gravity well caused by any of these ships? Ugh. This is just basic right here. After this they just kind of lost me. But I'd already paid for the ticket...

Completely on a different track, why 30 years after Vader and Palpatine go down is it the Rebels vs the First Order? Didn't the rebels win in Return of the Jedi? The crawl in The Force Awakens said the "resistance" had the backing of the Republic. And in film time, a few hours have passed since the first movie. I mean Rey was still holding out that light saber for god's sake. Maybe a few days. Now they're the last 400 people. WTF? I'm thinking wouldn't the series have been better served by making it the Republic vs some Radical order who wants to return to the old ways of the Empire? No so much the heroes are the underdog story, again, but the opposition as a kind of space terrorist organization. Here the bad guys have got Super Star Destroyers and the people with the backing of the Republic are using third hand space junk. 

Back to the film. Why was the Rebels ship not fully fueled? You're planning an escape and after the first jump they're already talking about fuel issues. Or was it? A ship that size should have been able to jump several times I would have thought. I mean they jumped to the middle of nowhere, a second jump had to be possible. And once they realized they could be tracked through hyperdrive, why didn't they scatter? That's like a basic escape the police tactic and yet this crew hung together long enough to get picked off until down to one ship.  I realize again this was an attempt to build some tension much like the reboot of Battlestar Galatica, but that was a series not a movie, they had time to explore build character. Not even gonna ask why this fleet is so small or why since the First Order just blew up some planets in the last movie their allies are on the Outer Rim and not closer.   

Now, I must have gone to the bathroom for this part, but how did Finn and Rose get off the ship? In a hyperspace capable ship? That apparently no one saw launch? I mean the bridge crew and all of them. Think on that for a minute.

I'm not even questioning how Leia made it back to the ship. The Force is the Force. It just is. Deal with it.

And now to Holdo, in her emergency battle gown. Far be it from me to mock her just because she's a woman, my problem is she is terrible at command but everyone wants to overlook it. Yeah, I'm serious. Let's go over it. She only has the job because the Resistance's entire leadership is wiped out by the bridge strike. She has a little reputation because Poe's kind of impressed and he decides to try to help. So, in their desperate situation does she even attempt to get buy-in from her subordinate? Nope, she belittles him. Because that's what people in charge should do.

But Poe was a hotheaded pilot who'd just got demoted, she didn't owe him anything her defenders exclaim. Only they're mistaken. Poe was a hotheaded HERO who'd just recently blown up the First Order's super Death Star who'd been just demoted by a even bigger HERO, General Organa for a mistake. He wasn't a nobody, he was a key part of the resistance who'd found the missing map to Luke Skywalker and who still held sway with the pilots even after the misguided dreadnought attack. He asked what the plan was and the Vice Admiral believing she had Leia's clout just went at him like it was personal. That should have been a pull his ass into a closet and tell him the plan to get him on to her side moment. She knew he was a hothead and just sneeringly said fuck you I'm in charge. That's just bad personnel management. Had she handled it properly it would have meant there would be no mutiny attempt and Leia's actual plan would have worked. Instead, the vice admiral's stubbornness and lack of ability to read the situation or her personnel are what caused the mutiny, the plan to get out and the deaths of many on the smaller ships. But yeah, she was a great. Ha.   

All that however does not diminish her kicking in the hyperdrive through another ship though. That was pretty cool.

The ending had too many issues for me as well, at once harking back to a New Hope with its out of nowhere Millennium Falcon appearance. And I'm confused, what exactly were the tiny little salt skimmers supposed to do against a cannon the size of a football field? How long was it supposed to be before help came? Hours? Days? Other than Luke's supreme fakeout the ending was just shy of pure grade-A bullshit. It setup nothing, it created no cliffhanger, it just kind of ended... huh?

While I think Abrams is an ass who doesn't understand how to make a hero movie, I'm not sure what to make of Rian Johnson, who apparently doesn't know how to make a hero movie either. Guys, let me explain it to you slow: We don't go to the movies to watch the heroes die, we go to see how they'll win. I may be in the minority, but a hero dying doesn't add weight or add character to the story. The noble sacrifice is just as much a cliche as the bulletproof good guy. It's a popcorn movie, not Shakespeare, make it a damned popcorn movie already. This was a lame attempt to give literary heft to cardboard characters. Hey, Hollywood, we like cardboard characters for popcorn movies!   

Let's hope the Lando movie is more like this.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The long road back

Ramblings Post #342
I toyed with the idea of putting some cryptic song lyrics here, but in reality I just was doing some other stuff. So I let this slide for a minute. Sorry. Well, not really. This is was always really more for me than for anything else and if my attention waned on a part of me I kinda always knew it would come back. And here it is.

I'm back,

Not that anyone missed me.

I've been working on a lot of personal projects as of late - wrote a book for NaNoWriMo about airship racing in an Alternate-1960s (and I am already tossing around the idea of sequel) while I was in the midst of writing another about a dimension hopping blues band. I got an actual job as opposed to contracting (well, I got an offer). I semi-restarted my epic diet of 2010 ( I write that with a bowl of ice cream on the desk by the keyboard). I signed up for some online classes for some stuff I'm interested in - time management, programming, some law.

I'm doing stuff. Yeah.

And I'm doing all this stuff because if I keep watching the news and seeing just how close we are to a twisted prologue of the movie Idiocracy, or worse, having to find some kids to serve as tribute, I don't know if I'm gonna make it. This is supposed to be America dammit, and the idea that the elected officials serve all Americans, NOT JUST THE ONES WHO VOTED FOR THEM, seems to have been lost somewhere. We live in interesting times. God help us all.

Maybe my memory isn't good, but under the last president I don't remember the country repeatedly stumbling from potential catastrophe to potential disaster on seemingly endless repeat. Or us purposely poking the hornets nests in the Middle East and North Korea because we swear we won't get stung. Or the government so blatantly ignoring the will of the people. And while I half expected the confederacy that we're seeing created before us since that morning I woke up and realized we'd elected an out of touch egocentric narcissistic as President, it's the rest of it that worries me the most.  It's all the change happening at the veritable speed of the internet (before deregulation) with no concern for casualty or consequence beyond a zealot's personal gratification that gives me pause.

A lot has been going on. A lot of it grey matter being treated as Vantablack or pure white. We've entered an age of no compromise and no forgiveness or rehabilitation. We're all suddenly absolutists in a world created by the sum of our parts, experiences, faults and fears

Except me. I'm just a guy. And I'm sitting over here judging you all. And fairly soon I'm gonna start talking about you too.

And I'm not that damn happy either.
Barkeep. Some of that Boone's. Yes, I am aware that it is $100 a bottle at this point. But sometimes it bees like that.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

One door closes, another opens...

Ramblings Post #341
I had to write something that wasn't political or about death, as it was getting pretty dark on here. There are so many "you've got to be kidding me" moments happening so fast as of late so often that you almost have to just turn off the news and go read a book or listen to soft classical music. And this would be the lick except I'm one of those people who is unable to put the idea it will all still be right there when I get back out of my head. I keep imagining that it's all a terrible dream, only it seems like I've brought you all with me. Sorry about that. 

I liked Survivor's Remorse, the showtime original series about basketball player Cam Calloway,  played by average sized Jessie T. Usher, getting his first really big NBA payday. It was original, it wasn't about drugs or the music industry, the usually stereotypical gritty black characters that would have infested a show like this stayed on the sidelines for the most part, nobody got murdered, it explored a lot of scenarios and situations not normally covered AND it was shot in Atlanta. All good things. It was television of a type, Black TV, which means every episode had a message or theme we were supposed to see and relate to as African Americans, and while the characters were making us laugh we were supposed to learn a lesson. It's a real thing, google it.
And that was all she wrote
Towards the end though, I began to enjoy Cam's sister M-Chuck (short for Mary Charles) and the his cousin Reggie  stories more. Partially because they seemed more fleshed out and covered more ground than did Cam's stories, but most because along the way Cam had become a bit of a too caught up in himself asshole. When we first met the him, he was happily tagging thots and telling folks he was happy his mom's didn't abort him. He and his cousin/manager slipped and slid out shoe deals, new contracts, setting up their own sports agency, ad campaigns and hilariously trying to give away a gun. But by the time we left him Cam had become a self righteous insufferable crusader for his own personal brand of goodness that included children's charities, retired basketball players and corporate divestment. In the last few episodes my favorite parts were the rants of truth given by side characters and not the star of the show.

But all the aside, because that is a writing issue that can be address, that the show was cancelled at the end of the fourth season unceremoniously leaving so many unanswered questions is the real problem. At the end Cam had just asked his girl Allison to marry him and she'd just found out what it meant to be a basketball wife professionally and personally. Reggie had just invested pretty much his whole nut in a opportunity Cam had expressly told him not to. And M-Chuck kept bringing up old skeletons.  So, did they actually get married after she really saw how he lived? Did Reggie's investment shit the bed? Can lesbian M-Chuck have a platonic relationship with a woman? Does his mom marry the billionaire? But, most importantly, how many lawsuits does Mikey C (played by a very funny DJ Khaled) end up causing?

By the way, I'm still mad they killed off Mike Epps' character.

But, where a door closes, another opens. Out goes Survivor's Remorse and in walks White Famous. Where in this case the lead character starts out a broke self righteous insufferable asshole who keeps trying kick himself down a well. Let's hope he gets better.
We shall see, see indeed.
The show, checking off the stereotypical boxes, is about a standup comedian in Hollywood with a beautiful ex-girlfriend who is the mother of his child trying to make it. He also has a overweight friend he claims is hilarious  but we haven's seen it yet, an smarmy agent he can't seem to fire, and the chance of a lifetime due to chance encounter with a slightly inebriated asshole Hollywood producer. No, not him, another one.

It's a new show so I'm still saying it has potential, but the early writing feels like whoever wrote put together doesn't think about how real people act. The lead, played by SNL alum Jay Pharoah, plays comedian Floyd Mooney not like a person who has a kid he needs to look out for or even possesses a burning hunger for success. He plays him more like a someone willing to starve to prove a point of blackness, which is not how you make it in Hollywood. He's a character with no give in a town that's all compromise. That's bad writing or directing I can't tell which. but what I do know is bad writing is the baby mother, a Cleopatra Coleman who needs no embellishment, who at the end of the first episode tells Floyd to take the opportunity then at the start of the second episode berating him for not seeing his son because he's busy with that same opportunity. That needs to be cleaned up, little things like that. If it can. Like I said, it has potential, it's not there yet. AND the lead character needs to stop acting like getting a shot is like applying at McDonalds or that he's going to make it strictly on his own terms. Talk about unrealistic television. 

I did however like the Black TV point it makes however in how popular media seems to want emasculate Black men by putting them in dresses. (See Martin, Tyler Perry, etc) Jamie Foxx playing himself was funny in what could have been a throwaway scene, Floyd refusing to dance to that tune was a twist for the good for the most part. But for this good we got the ending, which was a bit contrived.

Episode two was also uneven, but as I said, hopefully it gets better. We shall see. This reminds me why I don't watch as much television as I used to.


Barkeep, let me get a summer ale. What do you mean summer's over. Well damn, there goes my heating bill. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Las Vegas - Damn.

I've always meant to go to Las Vegas. I apparently don't travel much, even though as a child I used to dream of it nightly, planning trips to places around the globe, poring over resort layouts, scouring maps for points of interest. As an adult I've never even been to Las Vegas. It's not like they don't have flights, but there was always something else. And now I guess there is a Las Vegas Before...and a Las Vegas After.

What happened was...shocking. I didn't watch TV Sunday night confined myself to a fresh startup of an video strategy game I like - the Cowboys had lost, I was not in the mood for anything - and so I wasn't until Monday morning on the way to work listening to NPR that I heard. And I cursed out loud in shock. Not a quiet sentiment, but actual shock. It's surreal really. 

So when exactly is a good time to talk about gun control?

Normally, on like an average day, there is no urgency. You raise the question and your patriotism is questioned and you find out the Second Amendment is second to nothing and not just because THEY keep trying to punch holes in the first amendment. We're not talking about taking all guns away, just the really dangerous ones, and maybe checking to see whose buying them, but no. The NRA takes it's bag of money out of the trunk, the Congresspeople line up and later we all argue about the same things we've been yelling about for the past 50 years and nothing changes.

So apparently that's not the moment. 

On a day like today, which occurs far too often, where a tragic incident involving firearms designed for warfare is used for NOT warfare, we get admonished for attempting to politicize the event for our own ends. We must tend to the wounded, counsel the grief stricken, figure out what happened. After that we'll lionize the brave, donate blood or time, dramatize the events in the re-telling and then sell the movie rights - we can get Mark Wahlberg. And pray. And send our thoughts.

So apparently it's not now either.

As I understand it, one of the central arguments in favor of the Second Amendment is that limiting it deprives one of the right to defend themselves in case of being attacked. I hear this, but I always wonder do those who espouse this believe that shootouts are like the movies? Like video games? That they'll be able to unlimber their firearms, coolly assess the situation, and then spring into action John Wick style using only head shots? People who describe getting shot at use words like terror, shock and anger. And I'm talking about soldiers who are trained for it, not work day Joes. One of the people on the scene, formerly a major gun rights supporter, realized that night why that argument doesn't work. But had to happen to him. Why can't we learn from his insight. Sigh.

Las Vegas was horrific.

How many dead do we need before we act? We have as many dead from gun violence in the past six months as we've had from all the terrorist attacks ever in this country. I realize an incident like this is probably not the best way to evaluate how guns affect our lives, but when is? We've already figured out it's not when it's not happening. When do we get to defend America from itself?