#25 – Thisclose

It was super foggy on my drive in to work today.  It looked like this:

I felt foggy too.

I don’t have much rage anymore, but I could feel it this morning.  It was palpable.

The sun can out not too long ago.  The fog burned off.  It looks like this currently:

I don’t know that the rage is gone.  Maybe it’s subsiding a bit.

With every word I’m typing it’s becoming clearer, though.

I’ve been wrestling with it for awhile now.  I think, though, that I’m not going to vote for Hilary Clinton. I’m not.

Where does that leave me?

I see three options.

  • Don’t vote.
  • Vote #JillStein.  Might as well be a vote for Trump though, right?
  • #VoteTrump.  I’m serious.

I can’t, we can’t go back to the Clintons, can we?  They’re slippery as hell.  The get away with shit.  Even if they are not guilty, they are guilty.  They are status quo.  They are big banks.  They’ll say what you want to hear, even while they contradict what they’ve said before.

That’s what Trump does.

Trumps words and the Republican platform and people that embrace it whole heartedly is what’s wrong with the the country.  It’s odorous and counterproductive.

The Clintons say the right things.  A Clinton presidency will be beyond contentious.  It will be plagued by scandal, just like the last one.

It’s easy for me to say this.  A Trump presidency will not affect me, not at first anyway.  They won’t come for me, or build a wall because of me.  Not at first anyway.

Bernie Sanders has sold out.  That “revolution” is over.

Maybe, though, a #TrumpPresidency is what we need.  Maybe we need to be exposed.  It’s already leaked out, the country’s gross underbelly.

Hate, racism, division never really went away, did it?  It was just hiding, waiting in the weeds, marking time.  Don’t call it a comeback.  It’s been here for years.

Maybe it’s time for a full resurgence.  Maybe we need to see the ugliness in full in the bright burning sunlight of the day.  Maybe we need to stop fooling ourselves, that either one of these choices is a choice at all.

What am I going to do?  Protest?  Hit the streets?  Pick up a weapon?  I won’t.  I don’t have it in me.

But I’m not, I can’t vote for the easy choice.  I don’t think I can look my daughter in the eye, with everything we talk about, with everything I tell her I stand for, and #VoteHilary.  I won’t be able to look at myself.

Maybe we need to burn it down. Figuratively.  Probably figuratively.

I’m not sure I’m brave enough to actually fill in the line with my pencil where it says “Trump” when I go to vote in November.  I’m not sure I’m brave enough not to vote, either.  I have a bit of time – not long, but a bit – to decide.

I’m not voting Clinton, though.  I can’t.  Maybe I’ve gone crazy.  Maybe I’m the only sane one left.

What do I stand for?  What do you?

Sometimes when you sit down, maybe you’re standing up after all.


Vote your conscious.  We all should.  If we still have one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIiyoUZTHNM&sns=em

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#24 – 45 Blocks

I’ve been walking the neighborhood for a few weeks now – the weather is nice and I’m trying to get my midsection down from round to not as round.I live around here, in the city of Milwaukee.  



Yesterday, about 45 blocks away, this was happening:


45 blocks doesn’t seem like much – I could get there in 10 mins or so if I drove,  right?  It might as well be a world away.

The violence after a police shooting – see the story here, if you want http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/14/us/milwaukee-violence-police-shooting/

I thought about it as I walked.  I’m not a fast walker, and I’m a bit out of shape.  I couldn’t have been gone longer than 20 mins, and only covered from 78th to 84th, down 84th to Burleigh, back to 78th and home.  

  • During those twenty mins I saw 5 black kids and one black adult playing basketball on one end of the playground at the 81st St school, while a middle aged white guy practiced his jump shot on the other end
  • Two little white girls roller skating between the courts
  • 3 joggers, one white guy, one white woman and one black woman, at different times on different blocks 
  • A white teenage boy skateboarding 
  • A white family of 3, the son not more that 6 or 7, pushing his wheelchair in front of his parents as they walked.

You can see a lot of stuff in my neighborhood if you look close enough.  A lots been going down in MKE over the past year, just like it has been in the rest of the country.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Dontre_Hamilton

http://m.wisn.com/news/man-shot-killed-by-officer-at-madison-park/40187444

The Governor has called up the National Guard.  I guess they’re on standby.  http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000004591091/governor-walker-calls-in-national-guard.html

I sit now in my backyard.  You’d swear we lived in the suburbs or something.  It’s something to hear about stuff in the news – Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas, etc.  This is not that, not yet, and maybe not at all.

Milwaukee is a pretty segregated city, but you wouldn’t know it if you walked around my neighborhood.  http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-milwaukee-most-segregated-polarized-place.html

45 blocks.  That’s nothing.  I wonder how to get this 


to look like this 


I’ll keep walking the neighborhood and seeing what I see.  I wonder if those 45 blocks can be bridged, and if not, which picture will I be more likely to see in my neighborhood in the future?


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#23 – Mr. Awesome’s Top10 Movies Pt.2

Look it, lists like these are obviously objective.  My list is not definitive, even for me.  I combed best movie lists, Academy Award winners, comedies, dramas, sci-fi, etc. to make sure I wasn’t leaving out any movies I like.  I’m sure I have, but this is what I came up with.  I’m interested in what you think of the list, and/or maybe my reasoning.  Hell, I’m just interested in movies you like.  Maybe you know of one I haven’t seen, or didn’t know existed that I may want to give a chance.  For the complete list of my Top10 movies, see Part1 .

— 10 —

GROUNDHOG DAY

groundhog day

Every day is Groundhog Day

“Groundhog Day?  Why Groundhog Day?” my Dad asked.  I get the question.  How could GD be on a Top10 movie list?  On the surface, it’s a fairly inconsequential and standard situational movie comedy, typical of a mid-career Bill Murray movie.  Even then, Bill Murray was a pretty awesome actor, it’s just that he did most of his acting in comedies.  That’s not to denigrate comedies as a movie category.  It’s just that critics, or movie fans and people who vote for or follow things like the award shows rarely find meaning or greatness in comedies, except as a comedic movie.  A comedic movie can be great, but as a comedy and not purely as a movie.  Or that’s my perception of how it goes.

And there is nothing wrong with a straight forward comedy, or a straight forward anything.  Movies or whatever else can and should be taken on face value sometimes, and are purely meant as entertainment, and there is value in that as well.  I just don’t think that Groundhog Day fits into the category of straightforward comedy.

The situation:  Murray plays a dick-ish meteorologist who inflates his own self-importance at the expense of others.  He’s an ass to everyone, including his camera man played by Chris Elliot, and his producer, played by Andie McDowell.  The crew is assigned to cover Groundhog Day and the traditional festivities in Puxsutawney, PA, where the groundhog is pulled out and tells everyone if it will be an early spring or not (if he sees his shadow, 6 more weeks of winter, correct?  Or the other way around?  I can never quite remember).  Murray is none too thrilled to have to cover such a fluffy piece of news and really just wants to get it over with.  They shoot the piece, Murray being shitty to everyone along the way.  He’s in a rush to get back to the city, and they take off in the news van.  It begins to snow – heavily – as they make their way back until it develops into a snowstorm.  Murray’s weatherman is pissed off as the roads are blocked and the highway shuts down and the state police make everyone turn around and head back.  To make it worse, he did not predict any snow whatsoever in his forecast.

So they stay in a bed and breakfast type place until the storm blows over.  Murray’s character wakes up expecting it to be the next day, Feb 3rd, and to be able to leave.  Only it’s not the next day when he wakes, it’s the same day.  It’s still Groundhog Day.

It’s never explained how this happens, that Murray get caught in this loop where every day when he wakes up it is the same day, nor is it ever stated how long he is in that day, over and over (although the internet has theories on this, and you can look there if you were so inclined).  He is the only one who knows that it is the same day – no one else realizes it – it’s a new day for them, just like any other day.  As the days pile up, Murray realizes that he loves Andie McDowell’s character, and he tries to learn enough about her, every day, to make her realize that he’s not such an asshole after all.  He becomes frustrated, though, that every day and any progress he makes resets when he wakes up, her not remembering anything, only thinking that he is the same jackass he’s always been.  There are other situations he encounters with the townsfolk related to his knowledge of them as he day drags on and on forever, and hilarity ensues.  In the end (SPOILER ALERT) he and McDowell end up getting together, the day ends and a new one begins, and everyone is happy.  Pretty standard stuff.

Except it’s not.  Standard stuff.  I think it could possibly almost be categorized as a sci-fi comedy, if we have to categorize.  The reason Groundhog Day exist on this list is because of what I find to be its existential nature.  It relates to things I think about.  What is a day?  What makes up a day?  How can we change, or how can we change the things we may or may not like about ourselves?  How long, or when, or if we become self-aware at all – not the self-awareness of being human (I think, therefore I am) but the kind of self-awareness that maybe you are not happy with who you are, or how people perceive you, and maybe that you want to change who you are at all.  Murray slowly realizes how much of an ass he is, and that he is not happy with how people perceive him.  He does it for McDowell, tries to change and become a better person.

But how long does such a change take, once you may be aware that a change is necessary at all?  Does it take a day?  Probably not.  Does it take all of the days?  And who does it matter to?  Is the change real if no one notices?  Do you get frustrated when people don’t notice the change, or it takes them too long to notice?

The movie takes some dark turns as Murray’s character explores some of these questions.  There’s a good long stretch, kind of a montage of events where he has had enough of being stuck in the same day and he tries to commit suicide.  It’s played for laughs (Ha!  Suicide!  Hilarious!).  And every day he “kills” himself, by different methods, because he’s had enough of being stuck in the same day, he wakes up again, in the same bed, with the same song playing on the clock radio.  He cannot even get relief from suicide – it’s Groundhog Day yet again.

I go to work every day.  I do the same things every morning to get ready for the day.  I drive the same way to work everyday.  I see the same people, do mostly the same things, come home and do the same or similar things with my evening, go to bed and start it all over again.  Maybe I’m not stuck in the same day, but it feels like it sometimes, no?  I used to reference this movie a lot.  If someone asked me what day it was by chance, I’d often respond that it was Groundhog Day, because every day felt the same.  This (and many, many other things) kind of influenced how I was, or how life was, or how I looked at life.

I realized at some point that I didn’t want to be how I was, or at least be the person I thought I was on the inside, the me that people didn’t see.  They just saw the crabby and often mean-spirited person who projected my crap onto others.  It wasn’t them (ok sometimes it’s them and still is) that’s the problem.  To change how I was perceived and to truly become the person I wanted to be I had to slowly but consciously act in a different manner.

One of my favorite authors is Kurt Vonnegut.  One of may favorite quotes of his, which I believe is from his book Mother Night  – “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”  We may feel a way on the inside, but what we show people becomes the reality of who we are, whether we like it or not.  Murray’s character is an asshole because that’s what he shows everyone.  Maybe he’s not really.  He changes, but it takes forever.  It’s taken me forever, but I’m there in a lot of was.  I don’t think you are every exactly where you want to be, who you want to be,but through conscious effort you can get somewhere close to that.  You may feel low, you may feel like it’s not going to happen, but it can and it will if you try.

You don’t have to change if you don’t want.  But if you want to it’s possible.  It’s hard AF tho.  You will despair.  You will think it will not happen.  Murray’s character is on the brink, but suddenly one day it does happen.

The ending for me was a little too tidy.  Part of me wanted him to be stuck in the same day forever, but that wouldn’t seem fair to the character after everything he had been through and all of his efforts.  I don’t think that would have been a very uplifting ending for a commercial studio-type movie starring Bill Murray, so I guess it’s ok.  And I guess it’s good that it shows change it possible.

But how long does it take?  A day?  A week?  Years?  Forever?  I don’t think you can ever get there 100%.  I’m human, after Call, with all the weakness and foibles inherent with that humanness.  But it’s possible to get somewhere good, and sometimes the effort itself can be worthwhile.  Just be careful what you pretend to be.

 

— 9 —

CADDYSHACK

Dancing_Gopher_Caddyshack1

It’s in the hole!

Yes, another Bill Murray comedy.  No, nothing existential about this one.  In Caddyshack, Murray is in his prime of silly comedies, although he is not really close to being the main character in Caddyshack.  The movie boasts an all-star casts of comedic actors, including Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and the criminally underrated Ted Knight.

There’s not a whole lot of plot to Caddyshack.  It takes place on a golf course, and revolves around the caddys, the owner of the club, the golfers and the developer (Dangerfield) who wants to buy Bushwood and develop it with the help of his Japanese investors.  Lots of silliness ensues, and whatever plot there is is secondary to the comedy.  It’s almost like set pieces, or little skits tied together by the overall plot of Danny Noonan, a young caddy, trying to figure out a way to make enough money to attend college.

The plot is fine, but really Caddyshack is about the one-liners.  Most of my daily conversation is peppered with references to TV shows, movies and the like, one of the main ones being Caddyshack.  A lot of times at work, something will jog someones memory to use a quote from this movie, and for the next 5 minutes we’ll just go around and around, quoting lines and giggling about them.  I can list them here, or you can go here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080487/quotes to see some, but unless you’ve seen the movie I don’t know that just reading quotes is going to do it justice.

There’s not much more really to say about Caddyshack, except to say that it will never not be funny to me.  There are probably a ton of movies that are “better” by certain standards of what a “good” or “best” movie is.  But not for me.

Plus there is a dancing gopher.is

Plus plus that Kenny Loggins soundtrack!!!!

Caddyshack is pure unadulterated awesomeness, and you don’t have to think too hard to like it.  It’s just funny.

8—

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

empire

Princess Leia:  I love you.

Han Solo:  I know

Finally, a real science fiction movie!  Or sci-fi fantasy or something like that.  Sci-fi, for me, is where it’s at.  I love sci-fi, although I’m getting closer to something called speculative fiction, something like what Margaret Atwood writes.  Star Wars and the related titles are not speculative.  It’s pure sci-fi/fantasy.

As much as I like science fiction movies, there is only one other one on this list.  But wait, how can a Star Wars movie not be rated as the highest sci-fi movie, or just higher in general?

Let me tell you that I love Star Wars, like most everyone else (I do know a few people who have never seen a Star Wars movie, and it never ceases to amaze me.  Even if you don’t like that kind of movie, or do not like those movies in particular, it seems almost impossible to not have seen some of them by accident, or to have absorbed some of it just through other people and through popular culture in general.  It’s ok, just that I’m kind of shocked by it.)

For me, TESB the best of the 7 SW movies to date.  I do feel like the less George Lucas is involved, the better the movies are.  I don’t know if I can really argue the results, as the SW and SW universe is insanely popular, and even more so, if that’s possible, now that SW is a Disney property.

The original SWor A New Hope, as it was retroactively called, was a good movie and started it all.  But like a lot of George Lucas stuff, I think if you go back and look at it it’s not as good as you thought it was.  Lucas has had the most involvement in 4 out of the 7 movies – A New Hope and the prequels.

My feeling is that Lucas kind of lucked out on the original SW which lead to everything the franchise is now.  That’s not to say that the overall storyline that he developed is not really good or interesting.  It’s just that I don’t think he’s a particularly good director, or writer, especially where it pertains to the prequels (honestly, they were bad.  If someone were just to tell me the outline or synopsis of them I’d say that it was a really good idea and that they movies were going to be awesome.  But as far as the execution, objectively tell me that they were good movies.  Make an argument.  Because they were not).

So starting with TESB, through Return of the Jedi (I liked the Ewoks and I don’t really care if you did not) and culminating with The Force Awakens, the less Lucas is involved the better the movies became (although you could argue and possible swap A New Hope for Return of the Jedi.)  And you could probably argue that the proof is in the insane amount of $$$ GL has earned based on the SW franchise, where as I with my little opinions makes pennies in comparison.  So even the prequel I s, in all of their crapulence, must have merit.  And I think they do, in terms of the entire arc and as an idea of a movie.  But again, just because it infuriates me that they were so bad, I’ll keep saying it.  They were.  So.  Bad.

The reason TESB is the best one and is usually the consensus pick amongst SW fans as the best is because it’s kind of the bridge to the larger themes of the franchise as a whole.  While the original SW was a revelation and exciting and ended with the good guys winning, TESB was so much darker, so much more complex.  I remember after I saw TESB and the ensuing time period between then and TROTJ wondering, worrying, hoping that Darth Vader was not Luke’s father.  How could that horrible bad guy be the good guys father?  And the cliff hanger of whether Han Solo would live or not?  Just the overall tone of the movie was cooler, the cliffhanger ending was cooler.

I guess I love Star Wars because it was something different at the time, even as it borrowed from other movies.  And while at times, especially looking back, some of the dialogue may be wooden and clunky, as is some of the acting, if you put them all together it’s pretty awesome.  A movie, or movies, do not have to be perfect to be good, or be a classic, or to be included in Mr. Awesome’s Top10 list.  I think Star Wars in general, and probably specifically The Empire Strikes Back started my love of science fiction, and at least started to prove to people that maybe science fiction as a genre could be taken seriously, or at least not dismissed as an objectively good movie despite it’s science fiction pedigree.  SW paved the way for much, most or all of the sci-fi we know and love today, or at least I think so.  And there is no better example of that from Star Wars then The Empire Strikes Back. 

So there you have Pt.2.  Pt.3 to follow.  Enjoy your day.

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#22 – Mr. Awesome’s Top10 Movies Pt.1

Movies!!

I mean, we can all agree on movies, can’t we?  We, the proverbial we and us, all we seem to do is argue about shit.  Hell, we argue about movies too.  Everyone has opinions about everything, movies included.

But we can agree that we like movies, right?  Movies are awesome!  You like them, I like them, the kids like them, everyone likes them!

Whatever you call them – motion pictures, film, cinema, talkies, the show – it’s an art form that everyone can get behind.  I feel like at some point we should call them something else as more and more “filming” of movies is done on format other than film, but it’s a catch-all I guess, and I do tend to get caught up in the semantics sometimes, so maybe I should let it go.  I guess it doesn’t really matter.

I don’t really go to the movie theater that much anymore.  There are so many less expensive at-home options, and the TV’s and home theaters keep getting bigger and better.  I usually only go to the theater if it’s a movie I’ve really been anticipating, or if it’s a cool effect-laden movie like Star Wars or whatever.  Although the 2nd two ‘prequels’ to the Star Wars Saga I refused to see in the theater because the first one – the Phantom Menace – was such an unbelievably awful load of craptacular movie garbage that I waited for the other two to come to BlockBuster (ha!  remember Blockbuster?  Where you had to go to a store to get a movie to watch at home?  And have it back by a certain date?  And before DVD’s, you had to rewind the stupid VHS tape or they would charge you for it?  Remember VHS?  Have you watched anything on VHS lately?  It’s like watching something without your glasses on, or how I’d imagine it would be to watch something under water.  It’s awful, but we didn’t know any better, did we?)

So most of the movies I see are On Demand, or on Netflix, or the Hulu and whatever else the kids use these day to watch stuff.  Movie theaters are for rich people.

I don’t watch as many movies as I used to.  I’d like too, but in my non-busy life I’m really busy.  It’s amazing that I don’t do anything and yet I don’t have time to get anything done.

But anyways, I’m trying to watch more because I like it.  It’s not like the old days when I’d go to the Blockbuster after work on a Friday and rent like 3 movies for my (now) wife and I to watch over the weekend.  I’d go every Friday until we ran out of movies to watch (the amount of crappy movies – horror movies – that we watched was unbelievable.  I don’t remember it too clearly, but one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen was a horror movie called Jeepers Creepers.  I dare you to find it and watch it.)

So wherein the olden days I’d watch 5 movies in a weekend sometimes, it now it may take me a few months plus to watch 5 movies.  Here are the last 5 movies I’ve seen, in order (I think but won’t guarantee it):

  •  Primer (very low-budget “sci-fi” movie but very grounded in a real world type of way about time travel that was really good even though I only understood about 75% of it.)
  • Oldboy (I think Spike Lee remade this but I watched the original Korean version (yes, it is subtitled).  It started out and was awesome for most of it, maybe 3/4ths of the movie,  and then went so far off the rails that I wasn’t sure what I was watching.  I wasn’t that I didn’t follow the plot or was “bad”, and actually had a good twist at the end but holy crap I did not see it coming and if I was shocked I don’t know if you should watch it.  Really, I’m warning you.  It’s good but if you watch it to the end don’t say I didn’t warn you.  At the very end I may or may not have said what did I just watch allowed to myself as the credits rolled as I watched on my iPad in the bedroom, where I watch much of my programming as the wife and the daughter monopolize the TV with their awful TV shows like the Bachelorette or whatever.  Really, I’m not telling you what to do and I do not know what types of movies you like but maybe skip this one.
  • Batman Begins (When my daughter was younger there were all kinds of movies I wanted to watch with her but I thought might scare her a bit.  I think in this day and age they are pretty liberal with the PG-13 rating.  Did you know that PG-13 did not used to be a thing?  So everything was either rated PG or R.  Movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or Jaws, or Poltergeist were rated PG.  Now I’ve been watching movies that were probably inappropriate for my age range for a while now (my parents didn’t really monitor what we watched, especially when we first got cable TV) but I’m not going to lie that when the dude pulled the other dude’s beating heart out of his chest in Temple of Doom that it did not give me pause, to say the least.  So now the studios try to make everything PG-13 so more people are able to see it for $$ considerations, and occasionally I think they push the issue a bit.  But I really wanted my daughter to be able to watch a lot of the PG-13 movies with me.  She’s been watching them for a while now, and we’ve just now gotten around to the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, starting with Batman Begins.  She liked it well enough, and we have the Dark Knight ready to go but just haven’t watched it yet.
  • Zootoptia (fun little animated movie that was not Pixar or Disney (I don’t think.  I could look it up but I’m writing this and don’t feel like it.  I don’t have anything against Pixar or Disney – I actually love most of the Pixar movies (Brave was kind of weak, and I’ve never seen either of the Cars movies) but it was good and had a good message.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ar(same reason why we watched Batman Begins, though with probably at least a 20-year span from the last time I saw ROTLA, I have to tell you that I don’t think it holds up that well.  It’s ok, and I love Harrison Ford, but it’s not what I used to think it was.

That’s 1099 words of preface to the main event.  I’ve wanted to do a Top10 movie list blog for a while.  If you’ve been following along you’ve probably noticed I enjoy making lists and words and organizing them.  I’m not sure why but I like it.  I think I may do a whole bunch of Top10-type lists so I’ll start with this one.

It’s going to be in 3 parts, because this is already a ton of words and really it’s only just started.  Let’s call this part one.  I actually started this a while back but it just got too long.  So part one.  Here they are.  My Top10 movie list, from #10 to #1, 10 being awesome and #1 being the most awesome.  I’ll explicate in the other parts, but you can start chewing on it now if you want.  Or don’t whatever.

10)  GROUNDHOG DAY

9)  CADDYSHACK

8)  THE MATRIX

7) THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

6) THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

5) THE DARK KNIGHT

4) DAZED & CONFUSED

3) PULP FICTION

2) FIGHT CLUB

1)THE GODFATHER (both 1&2 – I know technically they are two movies but I count them as one.  It’s my list deal with it.)

Listen, as I type this it may be more than 3 parts.  I have a lot to say about these movies.  We’ll see.  Enjoy your day.

 

 

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